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In this episode, pioneering child psychologist Laverne Antrobus meets Debbie and her 8-year-old son Joe, whose uncontrollable rages dominate the entire family. Too scared of his violent outbursts to take Joe out and about, Debbie’s effectively trapped in her house and has reached the breaking point. When Laverne arrives at the family home to meet them all, Debbie can’t even open the front door, as Joe’s in the middle of one of his meltdowns, and she’s trying to restrain him. How can Laverne get the relationship between Debbie and Joe back on track and make family life bearable for Debbie’s other children? Laverne spends time with the family to experience how they interact. She helps Debbie understand that the parenting behavior she hoped was protecting Joe, is in fact, just antagonizing him, and they examine how her own childhood could be influencing the way she responds to Joe’s outbursts. Laverne suggests new parenting techniques for Debbie to use, but will she be able to hold firm to them during a visit to the park, or will the short outing – often a trigger for Joe’s out-of-control behavior – prove too much for both Debbie and Joe to handle? The trip leads Laverne to a revelation: she believes Joe has hypervigilance, and, therefore, his behavior stems from anxiety rather than anger. Usually arising from a traumatic experience, she wants to find out where Joe’s anxiety comes from and leaves the family with a new way of communicating to practice while she’s away. When she returns, she sets Joe, and his family, one final challenge. Supported and encouraged by Debbie and his siblings, will Joe be able to overcome his anxiety and control his emotions better than any of them could ever have imagined?
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