Experiential Exercises

You’ve read books and blogs. You’ve asked friends for advice.

Maybe you’ve even taken parenting classes before.


After hearing the theories and trying others’ tricks and tips, things in your family may have improved slightly… but you haven’t found long-term solutions to help your child act and feel better. 

You still aren’t sure what to say and do in order to set your child up for a successful future. 

That is why I incorporate experiential exercises into individual consultations and group sessions.

Parents have told me that no matter what they have learned about parenting in the past, these unique exercises were the quickest and most effective way for them to see the true issues their children were facing…so that they could finally find real solutions.


What Experiential Exercises Are

An experiential exercise is an exercise in which you experience what it is like to be your child. 

No, I don’t do anything weird or unusual in order for you to have this experience. I simply set the scene so that you can experience what situations are like from your child’s point of view. 

For example, we might consider a scenario in which a 3 year old will not stop hitting people around him when he gets frustrated.

First we’d look at the situation from your perspective.

Then I would ask you some questions (or do some other activity) that would help you see that same situation from your child’s perspective.

Or we might consider a scenario in which you find out your 15 year old snuck into your room and took her cell phone back after you’d forbidden her from using it.

First we’d look at the situation from your perspective.

Then I would ask you some questions (or do some other activity) that would help you see that same situation from your child’s perspective.

Once we recognize why your child is doing what they’re doing, we can identify the most effective way to help them act and feel better.


Why Experiential Exercises Work

Every parent I’ve worked with has already read so much information about “how to raise children.”

But reading a theory about parenting and actually knowing what to say and do in the moment are two different things.

Experiential exercises work because:

  • These exercises allows you to experience what your child is going through. 
  • Seeing your child’s perspective allows you to identify what your child actually needs — not what someone else (including the “experts”) tell you your child needs.
  • Even if you have multiple children, you will be able to understand the perspective of each child. (Unfortunately, we know that there is no one-size-fits-all solution.)
  • Being in your child’s shoes offers an incredible “ah-ha” moment that you don’t often experience when you are reading or talking about parenting.
  • The emotional experience of this type of exercise solidifies your understanding of what will help your child feel and behave more positively.

How Experiential Exercises Are Used in Session

  • First we choose a scenario to dissect. This scenario is an issue that you commonly face in your home/family.
  • We start by discussing your perspective of the scenario. This is almost like a “forced venting” session where I ask you to consider every thought and feeling you have about the situation. (Many parents have told me that it’s quite cathartic to be able to explain your point of view without anyone interrupting or trying to tell you why you’re wrong.)
  • Then, using a series of questions, plus your past experiences and your knowledge of your child, I will help you “see” your child’s perspective. This is not meant to make you feel guilty or stressed or overwhelmed. In fact, you will start to recognize the solution for changing the situation much more easily. 
  • Once you understand their perspective (at some point you will – I promise; I don’t give up until that happens) we brainstorm solutions, or identify deposits, that both you and your child need in order for the scenario to have a different outcome.


An Example of an Experiential Exercise

I understand that all of this might sound a bit vague at this point.

So here is a (free!) workbook with example of an “experiential exercise” that you can work on right now to get a better idea of how it works. (It’s short… Feel free to download and print it out.)

I’d love to hear how this exercise helps you better understand both your and your child’s points of view.


Please contact me to participate in individual consultations or group sessions that include experiential exercises and solutions for motivating more positive, resilient behavior in yourself and your children.