Two people enter an elevator. They do not look at each other and they do not talk. Do they communicate? Sure they do. Each is appraising the nuances of body language of the other – they may attempt to give meaning to the lack of eye contact and talk based on the other messages on the nuances of posture and behavior. If this is true, communication between parent [or any other significant adult] and child is of major importance. If we want to send appropriate messages and get appropriate responses, communication in all forms should be examined. This discussion concerns forms of communication and way to improve social competence outcomes in children.


It should be apparent that both verbal and nonverbal [including gestures, emotional sequences, etc.] modes of communication are salient methods of shaping other peoples thoughts and behaviors. Unfortunately good communication has not been an imperative discipline for parents and professionals who work with children.1 As a result, miscommunication, mislabeling, and misunderstanding are major contributors to the social deficits that children develop. From the perspective of creating a coherent set of truisms from which to determine concepts of self, situation and future on the one hand, to the perspective of ‘seeding’ of the environment with pejorative and malignant personalized and moralized metaphors on the other; communication has supported the very deficits which we hope to overcome.

As these [diagnostic] terminologies are disseminated to the public – through classrooms, popular magazines, television and film dramas, and the like – they become available for understanding ourselves and others. They are, after all, the ‘terms of the experts’, and if one wishes to do the right thing, they become languages of choice for understanding or labeling people (including the self) in daily life. Terms such as depression, paranoia, attention deficit disorder, sociopath, and schizophrenia have become essential entries in the vocabulary of the educated person. And, when the terms are applied in daily life they have substantial effects – in narrowing the explanation to the level of the individual, stigmatizing, and obscuring the contribution of other factors (including the demands of economic life, media images, and traditions of individual evaluation) to the actions in question. Further, when these terms are used to construct the self, they suggest that one should seek professional treatment. In this sense, the development and dissemination of the terminology by the profession acts to create a population of people who will seek professional help. And, as more professionals are required – as they have been in increasing numbers over the century – so is there pressure to increase the vocabulary. Elsewhere (Gergen, 1994) I have called this a ‘cycle of progressive infirmity’.

Is Diagnosis a Disaster?: A Constructionist Trialogue by Kenneth J. Gergen, Lynn Hoffman and Harlene Anderson

If we expect to change this inadvertent imposition, we will need to address the development of a more positive discipline of communication as well as a conscious awareness of its use. While there does not appear to be sufficient literature regarding verbal and nonverbal communication to build a competent communication repertoire for parents and professional, some beginning focus can be made.

Transactional communication

Based on the general principles of transactional analysis, we can develop a principle of respectful communication. Three fundamental constructs are indicated:

Child [egocentric] attitude: I want what I want when I want it!

Parent [commanding] attitude:2You will do it because I told you so!

Adult [rational] attitude: Can we talk?

While the description of each of these attitudes is brief, they convey fairly accurately the focus of and attitude that leads to behavior. It is important to note that each of the attitudes is held by all people. Each of us has an ability to act as a child, a parent or an adult. Children can often be seen as ‘acting like a parent’ when they boss or scold other children and tell them how they should be behaving. The Parent/Child relationship in this model is not the good child/parent relationship and from that standpoint alone, perhaps the labels are misleading – which is why we have supplied other terms. In addition, it might be more appropriate to label the adult attitude the responsible, rational or mature attitude to avoid the incongruence of the adult to the child. Nonetheless, the labeling is of a type that is reasonably easy to understand and becomes useful for that, if for no other reason.

It should be apparent, that the expectation for parents and professionals is to talk transactionally – adult to adult – all of the time. This is of course, difficult. When the child threatens a tantrum, the adult attempts to ‘control’ the behavior and thus becomes the parent. Significant energy is expended by teacher/parents trying to get the child to do what the teacher/parent wants them to do through ‘commanding attitude’ communication. Once the teacher/parent falls into that trap, a will struggle takes place to see who is going to win the tug of war – will the child or the teacher/parent get what s/he wants?

Such struggles require a great deal of energy which might be better expended in a different will struggle; that of continuing to focus the child on his/her mature self. If the child continues to ‘want what I want when I want it’, and the teacher/parent continues to suggest rationale ways of behaving, the same energy may be expended, but the potential outcome is well rewarded. Obviously, the outcome is also quite measurable. If the child is able to break down the teacher/parent into a ‘commanding’ role, the teacher/parent will become threatening, pejorative and personal.

If the teacher/parent can maintain the ‘rational’ [mature] position, the child will learn greater and greater control in using their own adult becoming in the process, less ‘egocentric’. The will struggle is also likely to become less intense over time as the child begins to cope with the new behaviors that are being modeled. One of the environmentally sound prosocial aspects is simply to give teacher/parents preferred ‘rational’ responses to use when children make ‘bad’ choices.

There are also some ‘formal dialogues’ that have been developed into rituals of Interpersonal Cognitive Problem Solving [I Can Problem Solve] and Life Space Crisis Intervention, or even Stop & Think – Good Choice/Bad Choice each gives the adult some direction on how to stay in the adult mode.

Directive Communication

Some children exhibit behaviors that cause negative attention from peers and the community, but do not pose a threat to the child or others. For these situations, general transactional communication is enough. Some children, however, exhibit behaviors that are far more extreme and demand immediate attention. These behaviors are considered by the teacher/parent as non-negotiable and immediate change is expected. Efforts on the part of adults to ‘control’ such behaviors are often fruitless because the adult has accepted the very premise that has made such behaviors so prevalent. If the teacher believes that the child is ‘out of control’ because of an ‘illness’ which controls the child’s behavior, the teacher’s communication to the child is unlikely to indicate anything else. In essence the teacher is then asking the child to do something that the teacher does not believe the child can do. Through verbal or body language, this negative expectation is likely to be conveyed and therefore the communication is likely to be garbled at best and pejorative at worst.

Even if the teacher believes that the child can change the behavior, the message that is communicated is often ill conceived. Suggestions such as “I hope you know what you are doing”, do not convey the real expectation nor does it provide information that may be necessary to meet the unspoken goal. If the teacher is clear about the behavior that must be performed and believes that the child can perform the behavior, s/he should tell the child to perform the behavior in clear, specific and authoritative3 [not authoritarian] language. The teacher, once making the decision that such a directive is non-negotiable should be prepared to expend whatever energy is necessary to ensure that the child performs the behavior once having directed it. If the teacher is not prepared to expend the energy, s/he should not give the directive.

Such directives are not appropriate for every area of the child’s performance. For preferred and ‘who cares?’ behaviors, other motivational techniques might be performed. Continual directive communication becomes negative and overly confrontational. Non-negotiable behaviors are those that the school or the family determined to be harmful or dangerous. Most adults use directive communication only when their personal limit has been reached, and then they often become parental [pejorative, personal and moralizing] in their directive. It is important to decide consciously that certain behaviors are necessary if the child is going to be able to maintain him/herself in full community membership and then place a positive expectation that enables that behavior to happen.

To be successful with directive communication, an adult must convey two basic beliefs: 1) that it is reasonable to take over and be in an authoritative position, and 2) that the child is capable of doing what is requested. The second belief is one that builds self-esteem and credibility as opposed to supporting a rationale for failure. Where there is a conflict of wills the adult must be more specific, concrete and assertive in order to get results. The adult must guarantee that the child does what is expected by backing up the directive in non-hostile, non-punishing ways. When supported through ‘good choice/ bad choice’ prosocial environments, such authoritative positions can become culturally appropriate.

This is not an authoritarian position; it is a position, which is used only with absolutely non-negotiable behaviors. The goal is to make children successful, skilled, independent people who use good judgement and make appropriate, life-enhancing decisions. All children need direction, guidance and structure so that they know where they fit. If they have a sense of where they fit in, they feel better about themselves, are less anxious, feel more comfortable in the world and can get on in a more positive way with the business of learning, growing and developing. If the child has learned to take appropriate direction, they are more capable of dealing with authority throughout their lives and probably more capable of being authoritative when they need to be.

Demanding too much of the child is often believed to have a deleterious effect. The problem with attaining mastery is that no one knows what a child can do until they spend time on task to find out. Many adults no longer expect and demand excellence of children. The problem with lowering standards is that once a child starts to believe that s/he can’t control him/herself, it is unreasonable to expect that s/he will act in appropriate ways. The problem is no longer just the behavior, but the fact that adults label the child who exhibits the behavior, and see him/her as if the label were true, and then act accordingly. The label provides a ways of seeing and understanding the behavior.

Directive communication that emanates from the work of Valentine [1994] provides the child with a clear assertive and informative expectation. If done transactionally, without recrimination, moralizing or personalizing, it sets a standard of behavior for the child to attain. It indicates clearly that the child is capable and in control. It supports growth, dignity and respect. Clearly, it is not parental [boss] communication as defined in transactional communication. It is neither a threat nor a pejorative remark. It is an informative expectation of behavior that the child needs to learn to respond to affirmatively.

Reflective Communication

Another form of verbal communication seems to have some relevance in this discussion. This is to provide ‘mirror’ images of what the child might be thinking or feeling. To say to a child ‘I like what you did’, may have little meaning if the child does not feel good about you. In fact, it may lead the child to change his/her behavior in order to upset you. On the other hand, a statement that says ‘you must feel good about what you did’, both conveys the positive supportive cue, while diminishing the personal context.

While it may seem that we are semantically ‘splitting hairs’, it is important to underline that what we say has real and potent meaning to children. Becoming more aware of that fact is a salient step in improving our communication with children.


Consider also, how you respond when your child tells you that she’s just been promoted, or your teenage son tells you that the most beautiful girl in his class just accepted a date with him, or tells you that he just made the baseball team? Shelly Gable, who is an assistant professor of psychology at UCLA and works on positive psychology, divides the possible responses into the following four categories:

Do you ‘react enthusiastically’” (active-constructive)? “That’s the best news I’ve heard this week, and I’ll bet its just the first of many big promotions you’ll get.”

Do you ‘point out the potential problems or down sides of the good event’ (active-destructive)? “Are you sure you can handle the added responsibility?”

Do you “say little, but convey that you are happy to hear the news” (passive-constructive)? “That’s very nice, my dear.”

Do you “seem uninterested” (passive-destructive)? “Isn’t all this rain something?”

She calls the first category ‘Capitalizing’, amplifying the pleasure of the good situation and contributing to an upward spiral of positive emotion. Capitalizing turns out to be the key to strong relationships.

How would your student/child say you react most of the time?


My mother usually reacts to my good fortune enthusiastically.

I sometimes get the sense that my mother is even more happy and excited than I am.

My mother often asks a lot of questions and shows genuine concern about the good event.


My father tries not to make a big deal out of it, but is happy for me.

My father is usually silently supportive of the good things that occur to me.

My father says little, but I know he is happy for me.


My parent often finds a problem with it.

My parent reminds me that most good things have their bad aspects as well.

S/he points out the potential down sides of the good event.


Sometimes I get the impression that s/he doesn’t care much.

My parent doesn’t pay much attention to me.

My parent often seems uninterested.

Being Active/Constructive Pays Off

The consequences of being ‘active/constructive’ as opposed to any of the others are robust and important. Adults who report an active/constructive mate are more in love, more committed, and have more marital satisfaction, both at the time of the measures, and later on. So important does this communication seem, that every parent and teacher should be mindful of his or her own responses.

Body language

Valentine spends a great deal of time discussing the adult [teacher, parent] belief system regarding the potential of the child in regards to the expected behaviors. If the adult does not believe what s/he is saying, his/her body language is likely to give him/her away. It is important that the teacher be aware of his/her own feelings and attitudes in regard to the child’s behavior in order to construct the communication necessary to effectively convey important information and positive expectation.

A British research team led by Christopher Brannigan and David Humphries isolated and catalogued 135 distinct gestures and expression of face, head and body. Nierenberg & Calero [1993] suggest that the art of thoroughly understanding nonverbal communication is a learning process almost as difficult as acquiring fluency in a foreign language. Yet its importance as a mechanism for feedback in supplying information towards full communication is vital. The ambiguity of words is further constrained by the context, the tonality and the gesture-clusters that endorse or deny what is conveyed verbally. The alternative verification of body language and the congruence of verbal and nonverbal messages are important to getting one’s point across. If teachers or other helping adults give double messages by saying one thing and conveying another through body language, the child is likely to be confused.

Just as we often ‘tune out’ verbal communication through concentration on our own mental stream, so too, we tune in and out on nonverbal monitoring. The gestures of the speaker are often taken in unconsciously and then become untested ‘facts’ to which we respond. When the child takes in a message that is incongruent, and does not take the time to subject these messages to examination and verification, s/he is often prepared to react in a manner that is different than one would expect. “Every gesture is like a word in a language, one must structure his words into units, or ‘sentences’, that express complete thoughts” [Nierenberg & Calero - 1993], in similar manner, one must be aware of the message of the gesture-clusters which accompany talk. Thus, if we seek awareness we must accept that we can unconsciously convey our ‘real’ thoughts and feelings to the unconscious of the child; to which s/he [consciously or unconsciously] responds. It is difficult to hide negative feeling about children from them. They may not be able to identify where and how they get the feeling that you don’t ‘like’ them, but they intuitively know. Helpers would vastly improve their relationships by understanding this reality and dealing with these feeling directly and honestly, albeit in a manner which the child can handle.

Double Binds

What does a child do when his mother asks him no-win questions? No-win questions are also known as double binds. There is a theory of schizophrenia that claims that schizophrenia can be caused by frequent exposure to double binds while one is growing up. In effect, enough double binds can eventually cause a child to no longer understand reality in a typical fashion. The theory, however, presupposes that:

  1. The child is involved in an intense relationship; a relationship in which s/he feels it is vitally important that s/he discriminate accurately what sort of message is being communicated so that s/he may respond appropriately.

  2. And, the child is caught in a situation in which the other person in the relationship is expressing two orders of message and one of these denies the other – often one message is verbal and the other is nonverbal.

  3. And, the child is unable to comment on the message being expressed to correct his/her discrimination of what order of message to respond to, i.e., s/he cannot make a meta-communicative statement.

Gregory Bateson gives the following example to bring home how this works:

For example, if the mother begins to feel hostile (or affectionate) toward her child and also feels compelled to withdraw from him, she might say, “Go to bed, you’re very tired and I want you to get your sleep.” This overtly loving statement is intended to deny a feeling that could be verbalized as “Get out of my sight because I’m sick of you.” If the child correctly discriminates her meta-communicative signals, he could have to face the fact that she both doesn’t want him and is deceiving him by her loving behavior. He would be ‘punished’ for learning to discriminate orders of messages accurately. He therefore would tend to accept the idea that he is tired rather than recognize his mother’s deception. This means that he must deceive himself about his own internal state in order to support mother in her deception. To survive with her he must falsely discriminate his own internal messages as well as falsely discriminate the message of others.

Remember as well that the child must interpret the messages from his mother – and by its nature double binds are difficult to interpret. If the child is inhibited from asserting the question of what is intended, the interpretation is left to his or her own capacity.

Bateson provides a second example, this time of an actual case, to further illustrate the mechanism of destruction.

A young man who had fairly well recovered from an acute schizophrenic episode was visited in the hospital by his mother. He was glad to see her and impulsively put his arm around her shoulders, whereupon she stiffened. He withdrew his arm and she asked, “Don’t you love me any more?” He then blushed, and she said, “Dear, you must not be so easily embarrassed and afraid of your feelings.” The patient was able to stay with her only a few minutes more and following her departure assaulted an aide and was put in the tubs.

It would be downright diabolical if the mother had any idea she was doing it, which of course she doesn’t.

No-win questions are questions that are going to convict and condemn you no matter how or which way you answer them. Perhaps the most often cited double-bind question is: “Have you stopped beating your wife yet?”. Clearly either a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ answer will convict and condemn you. The most common double bind or no-win questions involve the use of ‘don’t’: “Don’t you love me?”, “Don’t you care?”, “Don’t you want to make something of yourself?”, “Don’t you want to be successful?”, “Don’t you want to make me happy?”, “Don’t you understand me?”. “Don’t you want to go to college?”, or “Don’t you know better than that?” If you say “yes,” then the response may be to ask why you didn’t or don’t then do what you should if you know what to do. If you say “no,” then the response may be that you are defective, bad, worthless, stupid, etc., for not knowing what you should do: the right thing according to the other’s values.

The second most common form of no-win questions involves the use of ‘can’t’: “Can’t you ever do anything right?”, “Can’t you even do one thing for me?”, “Can’t you ever think of anyone but yourself?”, “Can’t you think for yourself?”, or “Can’t you do better than that?” The third most common form of no-win questions involves the use of ‘why’: “Why do you want to hurt me?” “Why are you always failing?” “Why do you have to be so mean?” “Why do you always take your mother’s side?” “Why do I put up with you?” “Why do you procrastinate so much?” “Why were you born?” Another variation is the ‘if’ format, for example, “If you really loved me, then you would do this for me.” Some creative types manage to combine some for even more stress, for example, “Why don’t you care about your family?” Basically, any question can be turned into a double-bind, for instance, “Is that they way you want to make me feel?”

There are a lot of variables that go into this process – there is the conflicting messages, the interpretation, and the inability to respond. But the point is that such communication leads to clear confusion – and the younger the child, the more uncertainty there may be. The outcome may not be severe, but it is likely to be detrimental to the social competence of the child in some degree over time.


Obviously a parent does not want his or her means of communication to result in such negative outcomes. All parents would prefer to raise a socially competent, optimistic and resilient kid. Communication can have that impact as well. Consider the following:

Shane, 18 months old, stands in the sandbox, copious tears creating mud tracks on his cheeks. Sonya, his playgroup pal, just grabbed his favorite truck and he doesn’t know what to do. Luckily, Shane’s mom is nearby. Putting an arm around each of the two toddlers, she says to Shane, “Tell her you don’t like that.”

According to Susan K. Perry, Shane has just been placed firmly on the path to optimism. Experts have found that when children learn how to express their feelings and resolve disputes, they are also learning a form of empowerment that leads to optimism and resilience. “There’s an extremely strong sense of satisfaction in putting one’s finger on a problem. When a parent says to a screaming infant, ‘You’re really angry,’ that helps the baby go from a vague sense of misery to knowing what they’re feeling, and then eventually being able to figure out what to do about it.” When a child can say, “You stepped on my toe and it hurts,” “That gives such a sense of power.

What is the opposite of being optimistic? It’s being helpless”.

Children with solid problem-solving and social skills are much less likely to fall into the trap of thinking “People are out to get me” or “No one likes me,” (Seligman, 1996). They are more comfortable in new situations and make new friends more easily. What’s more, points out Seligman, “They also know how to maintain friendships. They cooperate. They compromise. They trust others, and others develop trust in them. They handle conflicts well, respect differences, state their wishes clearly and assertively, apologize when they’re wrong, but stick to their guns when they’re right.” Seligman offers three rules of thumb: don’t solve every problem for your child, don’t be overly critical of your child’s attempts to solve his or her own problems, and make a point of modeling a flexible problem-solving strategy. It is the feeling of success, however a child achieves it that leads to optimism. And parents play a large role in helping their kids feel successful.

In addition, your child is listening closely to your own explanatory style, and making it his/her own style too. When a child makes a mistake and the parent issues a global judgment, such as saying, “I’m very disappointed in you,” the child acts more helplessly afterward. The best response to a child’s mistake is “strategy criticism“, such as saying, “Try it again,” or “Maybe you could think of another way to do it,” or “What could you have done?” When a child gets that kind of feedback, she is most likely to feel smart and to try to solve the problem another way.

On the other hand, it isn’t helpful to try to raise your child’s self-appraisal with reassurance, regardless of how the child has performed. According to Karen Reivich, such reassurance invalidates the child’s sense of the world and of himself.

“When a child comes back from football tryouts and didn’t make it, and he’s saying to himself it’s because he’s no good at football, and father or mother says, ‘Oh, come on, that’s not true, you can be anything you want to be,’ the child knows that’s not true. It’s actually teaching the child that the parent believes that he or she is not strong enough to take the truth. And,” says Reivich, “it’s sort of crazy-making.”

Instead, help the child assess whether there is room for change. “I might not naturally be the most coordinated person in the world,” says Reivich. “But that doesn’t mean I can’t become more coordinated. But I may have to practice three hours a day after school. Is making the team important enough to me that I’m willing to do these things?”

Above all, encourage the process of trying. Reframe failure from a disaster to just another step in a process of problem solving.

And when your child says, “I screwed up,” or “I’m stupid” or “I’m no good at drawing,” help him assess the situation by asking questions such as, “Okay, you’re telling me you’re stupid. Why would you say that?”

“The idea is to get them out of a mode of accusing themselves, and into an inquisitive mode. Why would you say that, what is the evidence that it is true and what evidence suggests that it is not true? If you going around saying you’re stupid, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. You want your kids to have a clear understanding of what their aptitudes and weaknesses are so that they have more flexibility to choose a rewarding life.

This, of course, leads us to another area of communication – internal communication or self-talk. Self-talk is what is constantly going on in your mind. All beginning meditators find the self-talk is constant and difficult to stop. Self talk runs the gamut of appraisals, comparisons, attributions of cause, judgements of good and bad, decisions about disposition, and the like. What we say to ourselves on a regular basis becomes habituated, meaning that it becomes nonconscious. If your remember learning to ride a bike or drive a car, you will remember that you went through a very difficult learning experience until at some point it became nonconscious. You no long think about balancing or shifting gears – and if you do, you may lose control.

Think about walking – you usually don’t – but if I put a board on the floor six inches wide and six inches above the floor – you are likely to become concerned about balance. In a similar way, self-talk contains automatic thoughts and when these thoughts are negatively self reflective [I am stupid], you behave as though you were stupid. The good part is that if you are positively self-reflective [I am smart] you might behave smarter. It is not quite that neat – for the statements must be believable and to say I am the smartest kid in math when you aren’t – this will likely soon come out. Therefore, what you are coaching your child to say to him or herself are balanced and rational statements such as “I really don’t do well in math, but if I work hard at it, I can get better”.

Since communication is receiving messages as well as sending messages, it is important that you listen to the child’s self-talk which often leaks out in times of performance crisis. S/he may not even know that s/he said it – remember, it is nonconscious – but continued experience can bring it to consciousness.

Communication, thus takes place on many different levels. The more aware the parent or helper is in understanding and interpreting each of these levels, the more likely they are to be able to help. In addition, the child needs to be able to sort out these differing messages and to find some way to do so which helps them function competently in difficult circumstance. Helping the child be aware of incongruence on the part of the adults to whom s/he relates and to sort out how to deal with those incongruities helps to prepare the child for competent functioning in the real world.


NeuroLinguistic Programmers make several presuppositions about communication that merit some consideration. The first and most powerful is that:

The meaning of your communication is the response it elicits.

You cannot assume that the message you intend to send was the message received. The only indication you have is the response. If you compliment someone and they slap you, it would seem smart to remember that’s the way to insult them, and try something else if you want to make them feel good.

Resistance is a comment about the communicator

It’s up to the communicator to be flexible enough to get the message across that they want, and be sensitive enough in their observation to notice if their communication is having the desired response. It is not a failure of the child as receiver of the message, even though we recognize that the child ‘filters’ the information through his/her own ‘inner logic’. But if we intend to ensure that the child receives the proper message, we should not respond to an unexpected response, but rather:

If what you’re doing isn’t working, do something else.

If you try one key in a lock and it doesn’t fit, you wouldn’t continue to just try harder. You’d get another key. People often to just try the same thing over and over, harder, louder, meaner. It’s easier to just calmly get another key, and another.. until you find the one that fits the lock, smoothly unlocking what you’re seeking.

Communicating is like unlocking a lock – it requires a conscious understanding of the problem and the use of conscious strategies. It needs to be recognized also how powerful communication is.

… You and I belong to a species with a remarkable ability: we can shape events in each other’s brains with exquisite precision. Simply by making noises with our mouths, we can reliably cause precise new combinations of ideas to arise in each other’s minds.

Steven Pinker [1994]

Of course it is not just the words, since over 90% of the message is contained in the nonverbal behavior. But the message is powerful! We cannot NOT communicate. We communicate to kids all the time whether we are talking or not. What messages are we sending? If we feel anxiety are we sending anxiety messages? And then when we use abstractions [words – concepts] what does it mean? The meaning of all of these messages are ultimately up to the child. And the meaning has an impact on his or her reality or understanding of the world. These few suggestions about how to communicate in a more formal and designed way in order to ensure that your child is getting the right message requires some thought and practice – changing our verbal behavior is not as easy as it might seem, since we don’t tend to consciously select our words – we just say them. However, as with all other processes, conscious practice can lead to habituation and then you will nonconsciously learn to select the most appropriate words to convey the most appropriate message. And what you say to yourself can have an impact on you as well.

Internal communication, called self-talk both habituates thoughts so that they become nonconscious and reflects core beliefs. Thus, the more positive your inner dialogue, the more likely your own beliefs will improve.


1It is interesting to note that mental disability attorneys have an affirmative responsibility to understand the desires of a profoundly disabled client regardless of the communication difficulties. In contrast, human service professionals have no such duty. If the client fails to effectively communicate his/her needs, or to misunderstand the professional’s communication; it is the client’s problem.

2We would suggest that when working with children, the terminology be changed. What is defined in Transactional Analysis as the parent attitude, is seen by children and adolescents as an adult attitude. Therefore, We would suggest that something like a child, adult and mature terminology be used.

3This may be another way to conceptually show the difference between parent and adult. The parent communication, like the child communication, is a power assertion, ergo authoritarian, the adult communication is authoritative.