Parent Guide
Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Four Winds Westchester

While at Four Winds Hospital your child has been learning about DBT and learning DBT skills to manage his/her emotions in a more successful way. It might be helpful for you to know these skills so you can help your child when he/she returns home. They are useful for adults as well!

When your child becomes angry he/she has learned to:

  • Be mindful and remove self from situation and breathe deeply
  • Use opposite action and walk AWAY rather than attack
  • Use mindfulness skills like 3-2-1 or the Color Game
  • Look at the Pros and Cons of actions

When your child becomes very sad he/she has learned to:

  • Journal about feelings
  • Practice Radical Acceptance
  • Use opposite action and be with others rather than isolate
  • Be mindful of the urges to hurt self without actually doing it

When your child becomes anxious he/she has learned to:

  • Practice mindfulness by taking deep breaths and focusing on the breath
  • Distract by getting involved fully in an activity
  • Recognize that their feelings will not last forever

When you and your child have a disagreement he/she has learned to

  • Use the GIVE skill
  • Walk the Middle Path

What can you do when you see your children struggling?

  • Let them know that you understand how difficult things are for them at the moment-validate them
  • Encourage them to use the skills they have learned
  • Try not to give them a lot of attention after they have acted in an unhealthy manner so you do not reinfore the behavior-be matter of fact, not emotional
  • Thank them for coming to you for help with a problem before they act out
  • Try to be non-judgmental and handle the situation in a matter of fact manner rather than react emotionally

Guía para padres sobre la terapia dialéctica conductual

To Make
A Referral, call:
1-914-763-8151 or
1-800-528-6624
24 Hours A Day,
7 Days A Week

How To Use
DBT Skills

Deep breathing – Take slow deep breaths and think only of the breath and how your body feels as you breathe in and out slowly.
Validation – Try to understand the other person’s point of view and let them know that you get how they feel.  This helps to calm the other person.  Telling them to “calm down” does not help.
Opposite Action – Think about what you feel like doing because of your current emotion.  What is your action urge?  Now do the opposite (i.e, if you are angry and feel like shouting, smile instead; if you feel like isolating, get involved in an activity with others)
GIVE – If it matters to you what the other person thinks of you then: speak Gently, act Interested, Validate, and use an Easy manner.
Wise Mind – This is the combination of Emotion Mind and Reasonable Mind. Recognize how you are feeling, think of what seems reasonable and let your Wise Mind tell you what to do.
Radical Acceptance – Recognize what you cannot change at this moment and turn your mind towards accepting it until a change can be made.
Staying in the moment – Bring your mind away from past pain and future worry to just this moment. Stay there by reminding yourself and using your five senses.
3-2-1 – This skill is about distraction. Focus on 3 things you see, 3 things you physically feel and 3 things you hear, then 2 things you see, hear and feel and then 1 thing you see, hear and feel.  Give each thing your full attention.
The Color Game – This is another distraction skill. Look around and name everything that is green, then everything that is red, then yellow etc. Give each thing your full attention
Walk the Middle Path –  Recognize that there are two sides to every issue and each side has some truth to it. Try to see the “kernel of truth” in the other person’s position and validate that truth even if you do not agree.  This opens up the ability to communicate without getting into an argument.