Learn about Empowered to Connect, TBRI and how one weekend drastically changed the way that one adoptive mother and father connect with their children.
“Our family was introduced to TBRI® in 2014, at the Empowered To Connect (ETC) Conference that year. At the time, we had two young biological children (one who was exhibiting sensory dysregulation) and were in process to adopt a toddler internationally. Up until this time, we had been parenting simply to change behavior,” says Angela, an adoptive mom. “Our goal when our child ‘misbehaved’ was to give the consequence we could think of that would stop him/her from repeating the undesired behavior.”
Raise your hand if this is how you were disciplined growing up, or how you are disciplining now? You focus on fixing or stopping the unwanted behavior. Until recently, this type of discipline is all that Angela and her husband knew. Frankly, it is what most of us know. But when you are parenting children from hard places — children who have experienced loss or trauma or multiple foster placements or grief — is this the best way to go? Through years of research, we’ve learned there is a better way, a more effective way, of reaching our children and helping them learn and grow.
The Empowered to Connect conference introduces adoptive and foster families to Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) — a research-based, attachment-focused, trauma-informed intervention designed to meet the complex needs of vulnerable children.
Because of their histories, children from hard places have experienced changes in their bodies, brains and behaviors. What does this mean? We know that a child’s past experience with trauma can influence their current behaviors, their ability to self-regulate and their ability to connect with those around them. This means that traditional discipline methods do not work. Their brains just cannot comprehend these methods. TBRI teaches parents to become detectives, to figure out the root of the behavior, and to not just focus on the behavior itself. Is your child having a tantrum because they don’t like the color of their socks or the snack you provided? Or is it something deeper? Is there another need that is not being met, and your child does not know how to express that need?
TBRI teaches parents three core principles – empowering principles to address a child’s physical and environmental needs, correcting principles to disarm fear-based behaviors, and connecting principles for attachment needs.
What truly makes TBRI work is the connection that resides at the center of every intervention.
“Our biggest takeaway from listening to Karyn Purvis (at ETC) has been to connect with our children before we hand out consequences,” Angela says. “This has changed the way we discipline radically. For instance, one of our children tends to act out by throwing tantrums. I have learned that most of the time, this child’s screaming is brought on by fear, and I am able to diffuse a tantrum much quicker by reminding this child that they are loved and I am on their side.”
Getting to the root of the behavior and figuring out the cause can help your child feel safe, build trust and help your child heal and grow.
“TBRI has taught us to meet the individual needs of each child over what others might expect our parenting to look like,” says Angela. “We often refer back to ‘The Connected Child’ and other resources from Karyn Purvis, and we feel like our home is a much happier place because of the influence of TBRI.”
If you are parenting a child with a history of trauma — or simply wish to foster greater connection with your child of any background — we hope you will consider attending the upcoming Empowered to Connect conference. Through the concepts taught at this conference, you too will learn how to bring hope and healing to your child.
Jessica Augsburger | Social Worker at Holt-Sunny Ridge, Illinois
For a quick, three-minute description of TBRI, check out this video.
For more information, visit the TCU website.