ACP member offers advice on coping with chaotic family life

Child psychotherapist Deirdre Dowling is the latest ACP member to offer her expert opinion to real life scenarios featured in the Guardian's Problem Solved column.

This week's problem focuses on the concerns of a mother who wants to help her adult son cope better with chaotic meal and bedtimes involving his two children, both under five.

She says her son is tired and irritable and on a recent holiday she had to absent herself from the table after he exploded with rage at his children.

"I have been concerned for several years that their management of their children's sleep and meals is chaotic, causing all four of them a great deal of distress. Having recently seen it under the same roof, I am at my wit's end to know how to help them or how best to cope myself. I know holidays are stressful but their daily routines were already very fragile."

The mother questions how she can help her son handle his frustrations and negotiate small changes to their bedtime and mealtime routine.

Deirdre advises: "Under-fives are full of difficult, powerful feelings - we can almost forget what it was like." She suggests offering practical support as one solution: "Lower your expectations and offer [your son and his wife] practical support. Could you offer to look after the children for a weekend to give your son and daughter-in-law a break?", she says.

Read the article in full here