Judge Baker Children’s Center Advances Mental Health

Judge Baker Children’s Center pic
Judge Baker Children’s Center
Image: jbcc.harvard.edu

Dr. Beth Grosshans is a retired New Jersey-based clinical psychologist whose 25 years of experience have made her a sought-after speaker on family therapy issues. In her book, Beyond Time-Out: From Chaos to Calm, Beth Grosshans explored imbalances of power between parents and their children and provided advice for remedying these situations. Dr. Grosshans served as a predoctoral intern at the Judge Baker Children’s Center (JBCC) in Boston, Massachusetts.

JBCC was founded in 1917 by Judge Harvey Humphrey Baker, the first judge appointed to the Boston Juvenile Court. Judge Baker believed delinquent behavior was caused by factors that warranted further examination. After nearly a century, JBCC has stayed true to Baker’s vision by conducting scientific research into factors that cause delinquent behavior and implementing effective treatment.

In addition to research, JBCC maintains a variety of programs and services to promote the mental health and well-being of children. JBCC’s Summer Enrichment Institute helps children ages 6-12 deal with behavior disorders such as ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder), and its Center for Effective Child Therapy assesses children’s mental health and provides focused, evidence-based treatment.

For teenagers with college aspirations, JBCC offers a program called Next Step: College Success and Independent Living. This program is available to students in grades 9-12 who have been diagnosed with nonverbal learning disorders, Asperger syndrome, or any other condition that may impede learning. Next Step works to instill in these students the self-sufficiency and problem-solving skills necessary for college success.


Alternative to Timeouts – Emotion Coaching

Emotion Coaching pic
Emotion Coaching
Image: parentingcounts.org

Licensed clinical psychologist Dr. Beth Grosshans provides assessments and interventions to individuals of all ages, including couples and families. Aside from her practice, Dr. Beth Grosshans serves as a private consultant to teachers regarding child development issues. One area of professional interest about which she is passionate is alternatives to timeouts for children.

Although timeouts are better than spanking, they are known as just another form of punishment by humiliation. Emotion coaching and prevention are positive alternatives.

In addition to coaching your child through his or her feelings, it’s critical for you, the parent, to manage your emotions, as doing so can calm rather than ignite an emotional storm. Since timeouts for a child’s meltdown can trigger abandonment panic, they are actually considered to be destructive.

Rather than subjecting your child to a timeout, try a time-in. This method is effective for helping your child calm down and work through his or her emotions with you. If a time-in means cuddling with your child and/or reading a book because he or she is over-tired, that’s fine. Even if your child is about to have a meltdown, let him or her know you are there to help and that he or she is safe.

What Is and How to Identify Imbalance of Family Power

Beyond Time-Out: From Chaos to Calm Image: amazon.com
Beyond Time-Out: From Chaos to Calm
Image: amazon.com


A clinical psychologist, Dr. Beth Grosshans retired from her practice in 2012. Among accomplishments Dr. Beth Grosshans maintains from her career is the publishing of Beyond Time-Out: From Chaos to Calm. In the book, she writes about the imbalance of family power.

Imbalance of family power is the result of you lacking control in the parent-child relationship. Rather, a majority of the power has been transferred to your child, thus causing challenges when enforcing authority.

A good way to know if there is an imbalance of family power involves evaluating your child’s reluctance to act appropriately when you make an authoritative request. If he or she responds negatively with crying or tantrums, or attempts to undermine you, those responses indicate the power lies primarily with the child. Another way to measure imbalance consists of analyzing the amount of time spent handling specific situations. Consider the power in your favor if you spend less than 30 percent of your time managing adverse scenario.

Imbalance of Family Power May Be the Cause of Unruly Children

Beyond Time Out From Chaos to Calm pic
Beyond Time Out From Chaos to Calm
Image: amazon.com

After many years as a child psychologist, Dr. Beth Grosshans wrote the popular parenting book Beyond Time-Out: From Chaos to Calm. A major aspect of Beth Grosshans’ theory is that unruly children often suffer from what she calls an imbalance of family power, or IFP.

Difficult children who fight with their parents on a range of issues, from toileting to sleeping independently and causing trouble at mealtime, may indicate that the family has IFP. The general rule is that family life should be peaceful about 70 percent of the time; any less than that indicates a larger issue.

With IFP, the children have too much power. They cannot see their parents as authority figures, and parents often respond by becoming unruly and throwing tantrums themselves. Many children try tactics to get their own way, and when these tactics work, they use them often.

It’s natural for children to test out family boundaries. When the boundaries break too easily, however, children start to gain power and authority, taking on a leadership role that can lead to a great amount of anxiety. Children do not, of course, yet have the capacity to manage such responsibility in their lives, and badly need their parents to act as leaders and authority figures. Addressing the issue of IFP can help many families right the balance of power and develop a peaceful home environment.