Seeking professional help to improve one’s parenting style is always useful and necessary, even if one is a good parent. However, sometimes it is not possible to be fully aware of what you are doing wrong when raising your children.

One of the techniques that help to be aware of errors when interacting with children is the video-feedback technique , which basically consists of recording an everyday situation between the adult and the child and analysing what may be going wrong.

Thanks to the development of mobile devices and video cameras, this technique has been gaining more and more use in the therapeutic field. If you want to know more and especially its usefulness with children in trouble, read on.

What is the video-feedback technique?

The video-feedback technique is a type of intervention, used both in the clinical and social fields of psychology, which is used to record a person’s behavior, detect those that may be a problem and make him/her see, by watching the recorded video, what needs to be changed.

Going into the field of child psychology and especially in relation to social services, the video-feedback technique has an outstanding use when detecting situations where a negligent parental style is being carried out. Thus, by means of this tool it is possible to capture situations that may pose an impediment to the correct development of the child or even pose a risk to his or her own life.

Viewing the video allows for the creation of a shared space between the child and his or her caregivers, encouraging empathy and sensitivity on both sides. Thus, parents, once they are aware of how the child feels or what problems were preventing him/her from developing properly, are able to change their parental style in favour of better growth of their offspring. All this is done while the therapist emphasizes the positive aspects of the adult-child relationship.

How is the application of this technique developed?

Nowadays, recording quality videos in therapy is quite easy for professionals, thanks to the cheapness of high quality cameras. In addition, the videos can be easily managed, showing the sequences in which the problem behavior is done. It should be understood, however, that not every type of recording is valid . The recording itself must be structured appropriately, according to how the therapy is expected to unfold and those behaviours that are considered relevant to highlight.

During the first two sessions, the children’s behavior is focused on, and in the following sessions, the relationship between the caregiver and the infant is discussed. Because it starts with the child’s behaviour and not with that of the adult, it is possible to establish a more solid alliance between the caregiver and the therapist . This is because the parent or legal guardian does not feel attacked when starting therapy, and therefore does not feel that he alone is responsible for what is happening to the child.

Thus, by the third session and those that follow, the alliance between the professional and the parents is comfortable and secure enough to make the parents behave in a completely natural way, showing without make-up their own parental style and allowing the therapist to change what is necessary.

Theories that support this technique

The application of this technique is based on two theories that have been fundamental in explaining children’s emotional development, as well as helping to better understand how infants are perfecting their social interactions. Thus, the following two psychological theories can be highlighted as the basis.

1. Attachment theory

The video-feedback technique has been elaborated taking into account the attachment theory, developed by John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth .

One of the pillars of the theory is that infants seek the safety and care of adults, looking for those caregivers who offer them these aspects.

The behavior of these children will depend on their relationship with their caregivers . Ideally, their parents should be a source of security, care and love. In this way an intimate and warm relationship will be established, which will mean a correct emotional development for the baby.

According to this same theory, in order to develop a secure attachment, it is necessary for the child’s caregivers to have the ability to properly and accurately perceive the signals the child gives and know how to respond to them.

The aim of the video-feedback technique is to get the child to establish a secure attachment with his or her caregivers, by detecting in the first instance possible negligent behaviour by his or her parents or legal guardians .

2. Social Learning Theory

Albert Bandura’s theory of social learning has also been related to this type of technique. According to the theory, individuals learn after observing how others are rewarded by behaving in a certain way .

Many parents, whether through ignorance or negligence, do not know how to deal with their children’s negative behaviors, and only apply penalties to see if they become extinct. Interventions using video feedback allow parents to show what aspects of their parenting style were not working and, by encouraging the positive, change their children’s behavior in the most appropriate way.

Also, by looking at examples of what should be done, parents who come to therapy can learn through observation how they should behave appropriately with their offspring.

Key aspects when applying this type of technique

The application of interventions that make use of video-feedback techniques is not as simple as it may seem. In order to do so, it is necessary to take into account a series of key aspects to be able to extract the maximum juice from the technique .

One of the main factors to consider is the relationship between the caregivers and the therapist. This is crucial in order to ensure the necessary duration of therapy, encouraging the involvement of parents or legal guardians in changing their parental style and modifying unwanted behaviour in the child. It is very important to make the caregivers see that the therapist is looking for the same thing as them, the child’s well-being and to promote their adequate emotional development.

For this, it is necessary that the therapist shows his support to the family , without judging them in case any mistake has been made before coming to therapy. Family members should feel that they are being listened to, so it is helpful to spend some time with each of them to talk about possible problems they have experienced, which may explain certain failures in raising the children.

The application of this technique should be done in a pleasant and fun way, as long as it is not a case of real child abuse. Parents should not feel guilty and see the therapy as a kind of punishment for not knowing how to provide their children with a secure attachment.

Although the intention of this type of technique is to improve the behavioural aspect and make both parents and children see what had not been working until now , it is very important to highlight the positive points, such as the fact that they have been given a roof over their heads, clothes, food, Christmas gifts…

Support technique for adopted children

The social and emotional development of adopted children is influenced by the experiences experienced prior to adoption. During that time, they may have suffered abuse of all kinds. But it is not only the period before the adoption that may have influenced them. There are also the experiences during the first months with their new parents that, depending on how they have known how to manage these new caregivers and the way the child behaves, may have been a source of difficulties or not.

There is extensive research in the field of psychology which argues that adopted children can suffer from developmental delays, including psychomotor, cognitive, emotional, attachment and social relationship difficulties. However, if adopted by families who know how to provide appropriate stimulation, these children show remarkable development.

Despite this, it is very common among adopted children not to develop secure attachment and, as a consequence, to suffer some behavioural problems. Interventions focused on improving the parental style, such as the video-feedback technique, are of great help to families with adopted children, promoting an improvement in the emotional and social development of this type of child.

Bibliographic references:

  • Juffer, F., & Bakermans-Kranenburg, M. J. (2018). Working with Video-feedback Intervention to promote Positive Parenting and Sensitive Discipline (VIPP-SD): A case study. Journal of clinical psychology, 74(8), 1346-1357. doi:10.1002/jclp.22645