Parent-Child Relational Problem

Jack is 14 years old and in his freshman year of high school. He enjoys school, hanging out with his friends, and participates in a variety of extracurricular activities, but lately has been having a hard time getting along with his parents. They ask him lots of questions about school and his friends, and this is pretty annoying for Jack. If he doesn’t answer his parents, they yell at him and say he’s being disrespectful. Sometimes Jack will run to his room and slam the door shut to avoid another argument with them.When asked, Jack will say that his parents have mean, cruel intentions toward him; his parents, in turn, feel that Jack “gets a rise” out of upsetting them and that they feel estranged from him.  Jack’s school performance is starting to slip.

What is a parent-child relational problem?

This category described the difficulties in communication and challenging interactions between parents and children. Parent-child conflict can occur at different times during child development, but most often occurs during adolescence. There is no single, known cause of parent-child conflict.

What are possiblesigns of parent-child conflict?

The experiences of families with parent-child conflict may very significantly from family to family. Some possible indicators may include:

  • Lack of communication (ignoring)
  • Yelling
  • Interrupting
  • Verbal aggression/abuse
  • Physical aggression/abuse
  • Negative attributions (causal statements) about the motivations of the other party

Some of these indicators may be behaviors associated with other psychiatric conditions.

How is parent-child relational problem diagnosed?

Parent-child conflict is not a formal diagnosis that is made by a health care provider or mental health professional. It is a “V-code” in DSM-5, meaning that it is not a mental disorder. However, some of the behaviors that may contribute to the conflict could be associated with other psychiatric conditions. Always seek help from a health care provider or mental health professional, who can help determine whether the parent-child conflict in your household might be related to another underlying condition.

What are some treatmentsfor parent-child conflict?

Treatments may include:

  • Psychological treatment (for instance, parenting programs or cognitive-behavioral therapy)
  • Family therapy
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Cognitive or psychiatric assessments to rule out other conditions


Two articles in relational problems in the DSM: toward_better_guidance_for_research_and_clinical_practice/links/0fcfd5102ef4da8355000000.pdf


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