Why Attend Empowered to Connect?

There’s still time to join the nationwide simulcast on April 8th and 9th!


We are pleased to announce that Holt is once again partnering with the orphan care organization Show Hope to present live simulcasts of “Empowered to Connect”—a conference featuring the director of TCU’s Institute of Child Development, Dr. Karyn Purvis, and other guest speakers who will provide parents, professionals and caregivers with valuable information to help you connect with the adopted children in your life. The training is based on concepts of the renowned parenting approach known as Trust-Based Relational Intervention® (TBRI®).

Click here to register for the Empowered to Connect Simulcast on April 8-9, 2016!  Holt will be hosting the event live in the following states:

Oregon: Eugene and Portland

California: Elk Grove and Santa Clarita

Illinois: South Barrington and Oak Park

Missouri: Lee’s Summit

Nebraska: McCook and Omaha

 To learn more about TBRI, keep reading as Holt social worker and TBRI educator, Marissa Leuallen, provides an overview below.

What is TBRI?

Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) is a fantastic set of parenting tools designed to help adoptive parents better understand their child and offers an approach to correcting misbehavior that builds emotional regulation skills in children and actually strengthens the connection between parent and child.

Developed by Dr. Karyn Purvis and Dr. David Cross at Texas Christian University’s Institute of Child Development, TBRI is a parenting approach for all children. It combines nurturing and structure in a way that teaches respect and compliance while also being loving and playful. TBRI uses immediate response approaches tailored to the level of misbehavior and the developmental level of your child. Since the delivery is positive and often playful rather than shameful, it allows the household to move on from conflicts quickly when they arise. No hard feelings.

Did you know that it takes 400 repetitions to learn something new… but only 12 if you learn it while engaging in play? This is true because of how our brain synapses work. It’s no wonder we treasure memories of fun family vacations and epic sports wins throughout our lives over countless other memories. That happens because positive interactions turn into positive memories that stick with us.

Researchers, psychologists and specialists in child development have adapted the staying power of positive interactions into useful parenting tools. TBRI infuses this concept into all of its core tenets.

Why it Works

TBRI equips parents with ways to connect with, empower and correct their child. What makes this approach so effective is that it addresses the past relational traumas that adopted children have experienced. If you glazed over when you read the word “trauma,” let me explain what that means. When we hear the word trauma, we often think of acute trauma (like a car accident). But trauma can also be relationship-based, such as in cases of abuse, neglect, multiple foster placements, long-term hospitalizations, institutionalization, and having to leave the foster family that a child has grown to love. TBRI gives parents the understanding and practical skills they need to help their child heal from these past relational traumas. The skills parents learn utilize the most current brain and behavioral research on children who have experienced trauma in their backgrounds, including internationally adopted children. Through accessible language, this training makes it easy to understand the ongoing impact of trauma on our children’s brains and the way they can have such over-the-top reactions to simple everyday events.

At the core of TBRI are tools to correct your child’s behavior while maintaining an emotional connection with your child. This means no yelling, shaming or isolating on the part of parents. Keeping a connection while correcting behavior is what results in lasting improvement in the child’s behavior. This is due to many things. One is the simple yet powerful technique of “re-dos.” Re-dos are actually going back to the scene of the problem and having the child re-do the activity with the right behavior. This can be done in a fun way and, because it requires some activity on the part of the child, it is better remembered than by simply talking about the desired behavior. Think back to the fact I shared earlier about the ease of learning through play. The technique builds “motor memory” in the child’s brain and the atmosphere of helping the child to succeed. Adults experience motor memories for thousands of everyday activities — such as typing, driving home and brushing your teeth. These are examples of things you do without thinking because you have done them so many times. Eventually, the motor memory will help the child automatically respond with the desired behavior. For instance, if the child knows there will be a “re-do” required for talking back every time it happens, the audio tape of mom’s voice will replay in the child’s head and he or she will eventually choose a better route altogether. Each challenging behavior provides an opportunity to build new motor memory for the desired behavior. Kids learn that their parents will give them a chance to get it right without hurting or shaming — a huge step for a child who has not experienced a safe or nurturing parental figure before.

How does TBRI help correct misbehavior?

TBRI teaches parents different responses tailored to the different level or degree of misbehavior. The response provides the child a clear path to undo the wrongdoing. It starts with quickly determining the severity of the child’s distress and then deciding the appropriate level of correction that needs to be applied. Ideally, the level of the parent’s engagement will match the level of the problem behavior. For example, if a child is only mildly distressed — say talking back instead of speaking to you respectfully — a low-level, playful ‘re-do’ could help the child quickly stabilize back to compliance calmly and quickly. When a more structured approach is merited, the parent can offer the child two choices about how to proceed. Or they can help the child express needs with words instead of behaviors by encouraging the child to ask for a compromise. There are too many tools to list them all here, but the general concept is that the more distressed your child is, the more structure the parent provides to help the child feel safe and get to a resolution (that works for the parent). Repetition of this structured approach to correction allows the child to practice how to do things the right way and, in time, the brain retains the lesson and the behavioral change becomes more consistent. My favorite part about this approach is that it ends with a hug and a smile. Besides being a proven way to improve behavior through connection, other documented outcomes are that kids increase their expressive communication, learn how to negotiate their needs, build trust and confidence in their parents, and develop important social skills like boundaries and respect. All of this happens through “playful practicing,” making it a positive experience for both parents and kids.

You do not need to be a perfect parent for these techniques to work wonders. You may find yourself re-thinking the discipline that your parents used with you or what seemed to work with your other children — and that’s the point. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by several “ah ha” moments as you progress through the training and as your self-awareness becomes more carefully honed. I’m hoping you will, like me, come away with a sense of optimism and confidence.

Want to learn more today?

Purchase the “Healing Families” DVD series from the Institute of Child Development at Texas Christian University.

Watching the free 37-minute TBRI overview is also a great place to start! Click here to view it on YouTube.

Attend an Empowered to Connect Simulcast – There’s still time to join us on April 8th and 9th!

This event will take place on April 8-9 2016. Holt will be hosting the event live in:

Oregon: Eugene and Portland

California: Elk Grove and Santa Clarita

Illinois: South Barrington and Oak Park

Missouri: Lee’s Summit

Nebraska: McCook and Omaha

Click here to register.

Marissa Leuallen | Social Worker, TBRI Educator

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