When our children are infants, we hold them for hours and love them intensely. We can’t imagine anything that could ever get in the way of that feeling. We’ve brought a beautiful new life into the world … an amazing gift from God … and we will always treasure that time we shared.
And then, that precious child becomes a stubborn toddler. Or a wailing preteen who screams that she hates us several times a day. Or an obnoxious teenager demanding his way. This isn’t what we signed up for, and we just don’t know what to do. Yesterday they seemed so sweet so who hit the switch that seemed to change them overnight?!
We knew we weren’t perfect parents, but we thought we were pretty good. Nothing we do seems to be working, and now the struggles with our child are beginning to interfere with our marriage. Are we doomed to fail as a family? What will become of our child? We are beginning to fear the worst.
Those of us who counsel families and children hear those frustrations frequently. Parenting has become an ongoing battle, and nobody is winning. No matter what the cause, no matter what the situation, everyone is desperate for a solution. More than anything else, we all crave peace and quiet, instead of the constant tension that churns everyone’s stomach.
There’s no single cause for problems between parents and children, but there’s a therapy approach that’s remarkably effective at understanding and responding to difficult behavioral. It’s called Trust-Based Relational Intervention®, and it’s based on what scientists have learned about how children’s brains develop. TBRI pairs that knowledge with a caring, loving approach to overcoming challenges children face. It recognizes that many childhood situations have a traumatic impact upon young brains, leading to significant changes in brain chemistry. Later, when the child is in a situation that stimulates the brain, that chemistry can lead to responses such as angry outbursts that far exceed what the situation calls for. We think it’s willful disobedience, but it could be a natural fight, flight, or freeze response.
Through TBRI, parents learn how to overcome that brain chemistry, and how to engage with their children in ways that build trust and strengthen relationships. It also helps them correct inappropriate behavior in more effective ways by teaching the difference between discipline and punishment. The goal is to help the child understand the consequences for behavior, so they’re better able to self-regulate what they do.
TBRI isn’t just about the kids. How we parent has a lot to do with our relationship with our own parents. The process gives parents a better understanding of their own needs, and how their actions may be an effort to address those needs instead of the children’s behavior. That way, they can focus their energy on more effective parenting.
Attend a workshop that explains TBRI and teaches practical parenting methods.