1 Campaign of denigration: It involves the active participation of the child in the disparaging campaign against the target spouse, without scolding or punishment by the alienating parent.
2 Weak, frivolous, and absurd rationalisations for the child’s criticism of the targeted parent: When they are asked to report specific incidences or explicit examples which support their accusations, they are unable to document credible, significant, or factual examples.
3 Lack of ambivalence: very likely, PA children will report a long list of deficits about their targeted parent while minimising or refuting any positive attribute or redeeming quality of that parent. Conversely, the child will have nothing negative to say about the AP;
4 The independent thinker phenomena: the child claims to be independent in making decisions and judgments about the alienated parent, rejecting accusations of being a weak and passive person.
5 Reflexive support of the alienating parent: the phenomenon of the ‘’identification with the aggressor” can be connected to this. The child being weak supports the alienating parent because of his/her power.
6 Absence of guilt over cruelty to or exploitation of the alienated parent: Child victims of the alienating parent’s campaign of denigration do not feel guilt or empathy towards the victim parent and do not feel a decrease in their self-esteem, which is part of the guilt.
7 Presence of borrowed scenarios: Children use phrases and expressions learned from the adults’ vocabulary and relate events they have never lived or cannot know about, but that are part of the smear campaign.
8 Spread of the child’s animosity to the extended family of the alienated parent: PA children also inexplicably reject those relatives they had previously had a loving relationship with and turn hostile to them. So, it is not just the TP who is rejected, but everything and everybody that has any kind of positive connection with the TP;
Later, Gardner added four more diagnostic criteria: • difficulties of transition when visiting the non-custodial parent; • behaviour of the child during visits or periods of stay at the alienated parent’s; • bond with the alienating parent; • bond with the alienated parent (before the start of the process of alienation).