I was introduced to Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) when I went to adoption training a couple of years ago. Up to that time, my husband and I had come to the conclusion that the difficulties we had with our son were due to his syndrome, and nothing we could really change. After all, we were responsible, consistent, loving parents, so it couldn't be our fault! Well, it was and it wasn't. It was because there were many, many changes we could make to bring healing to our little boy, and it wasn't because there was no way we could have known what to do without being exposed to the right sources. And then we were exposed to the right source, TBRI, and it became our responsibility to follow through. So, I've written a bit about TBRI below. Whether you care for children or not, if you have any curiosity about the brain and mental health, you will probably find it interesting.
1. TBRI is research-based. It's completely scientific and secular. And at the same time, I've yet to see a parenting model that adheres more closely to the way Jesus lived and taught.
2. TBRI teaches how to empower children (or anyone, including ourselves) so they can be as able as possible to make the right choices. From simple things like hydration and snacks every two hours, to using words and breathing techniques, empowering is the foundation.
3. TBRI gives specific, doable training on how to make connections with others in a way that will facilitate healthy internal brain connections, which leads to increased self-control, better decision making, and healthy relationships. Often, the strategies are simple things like eye-contact and physical touch, but there are also games and ways of speaking that might amaze you with their effectiveness.
4. TBRI is proactive in correcting. Did you know that when you tell someone not to do something, nothing happens in the person's brain? The synapses don't fire because the brain works with movement, with action, not with inaction. And so, TBRI shows us how to correct wrong behavior through practicing the right behavior. And I mean literally practicing it, as in through acting it out or playing with puppets during playtime, or, when a behavior needs immediate correction, having a 're-do' to run the through the situation in a positive way instead of the initial negative way. For example, when Trooper gets sassy with me, instead of taking away screen time or starting a rant about how rude he is and how he should show respect, blah, blah, blah, I can say, "Ouch! Wanna try that again with respect?" And he can take a breath and start again, and I can give him a hug and we can live at peace. And I get re-dos, too! When I snap or get impatient, I can have a re-do instead of letting my mood spiral down into that old black well of negativity. If there is a situation in my life that makes me anxious, or that I regularly screw up, I can role play it in advance to make positive muscle memory and patterns in my brain so that I can do well, rather than letting my anxiety or past failings play over and over again in my mind's eye, which will almost certainly lead to continued anxiety and failing.
5. TBRI has helped me understand why we feel and act the way we do, and how we can change it. I have begun to internalize the idea that all behavior expresses a need, even if the need isn't always what it seems to be. By 'chasing the why', as we say, we can get to the cause of the problem. TBRI is a training for parents and caregivers, but can be applied to everyone in your life. There are amazing video courses available, as well as books. The Connected Child by Dr. Karen Purvis and Dr. David Cross was written specifically for parents and caregivers of traumatized children. The Whole-Brain Child by Dr. Daniel Siegel is for any parent who wants to have children with healthy brains. Even if you don't have children, they're worth checking out. TBRI, and all the learning that has come with it, has affected my worldview in profound ways. Most importantly, we have peace in our home.
Below, I have added a video overview of TBRI from YouTube. As I mentioned, it focuses on children with a history of trauma, particularly fostered and adopted children, but it can be fully applied to anyone. People who are the product of a difficult pregnancy or birth, or who had early medical trauma, can have the same brain-wiring difficulties as children who were violently abused. It's crazy, but true.
Thanks for sticking with me. Until next week, peace and fulfillment to you and yours.