“We made so many mistakes when our kids were little, and I’m afraid we’re paying the price now. Our relationship with them isn’t what we’d hoped for, and I can’t imagine what they’ll be like as teenagers. Is it too late for us to do something?”
Every new parent quickly learns that kids don’t come with an instruction manual. We’re confident we’ll know the right things to say, the right things to do … and then we discover we really don’t have all the answers. We worry that the damage has been done — that our efforts have permanently harmed our children or at least our relationship with them.
None of us is a perfect parent, and all of us can improve. The good thing is that we can start becoming better parents no matter what age our kids are. The key is to remember three basic principles: empowerment, connection, and correction. These principles are at the heart of what’s known as Trust-Based Relational Intervention® (TBRI®), an effective strategy created by Dr. Karen Purvis of the Institute of Child Development at Texas Christian University. Care to Change uses TBRI as a strategy for helping parents and children overcome problems and create lifelong connections.
Empowerment is about meeting a child’s basic physical needs, especially their need for safety. Your children may be in a safe environment, but if they don’t feel safe, their fears will compel them to act out in inappropriate ways. By understanding and paying attention to those physical needs, parents can help their children overcome those fears.
Connection addresses a fundamental need inside all of us. We want to feel connected and attached to the people who are important to us, and if our children don’t feel that connection, it will affect their interactions with others. Our ability to create that connection depends in large part on how connected we felt to our own parents in childhood. When we connect in ways that build trust, allow our children to be their own selves, and make them feel truly valued, we strengthen our relationship.
Finally, correction is about how we manage our children’s behavior. Some people equate discipline with punishment, but it’s more than that. Discipline is more about helping kids make the right choices and correcting them effectively when they don’t. That way, they learn to regulate their behavior instead of feeling conflicted and ashamed.
Through TBRI, we’re able to give parents practical strategies and effective tools with which they can deepen their relationships with their kids and become the best parents they can be. If you’re doubting your own ability to parent, or if you’re trying to repair a strained relationship, sitting down with one of our professional counselors might be a great idea. Why not contact us today to set a convenient time?
Michael Spencer is one of Care to Change’s professional counselors. He has combined ministry with counseling for families, couples, and individuals of all ages, is an adoptive parent and a TBRI certified instructor.