Kari Dady joins us to talk about applying the guiding principles of Trust-Based Relational Intervention® to typical parenting situations. Kari Dady is a Regional Training & Consultation Specialist with the Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development. She is also an adoptive mom who uses the TBRI® approach daily in her family.
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Welcome, everyone to Creating a Family talk about adoption and foster care. I'm Dawn Davenport. I am both the host of this podcast as well as the director of creating a family.org which is a national nonprofit. Today we are going to be talking about trauma informed parenting, but specifically, we're going to be talking about practical applications of tbri. And we'll come around to that it's trust based relational intervention. We will be talking with Kari Dady. She is a regional training consultant specialists with the Karen Purvis Institute of Child Development. She is also an adoptive mom who uses the tbri approach daily in her parenting. Welcome, Kari to Creating a Family. Hi, Dawn, thanks for having me. I am looking forward to to this discussion. I have. We have been fortunate enough in the past to have interviewed Dr. Karen Purvis on the show.
I don't even know how many times many times she was one of the first he came on. And she was right before she died. She did our we were celebrating our 1 million download. And she Yeah, she came on. And, of course, she was stellar as she always is, and was so trust based relational intervention. tbri is, is a very special place in my heart emotionally from my contact with Dr. Purvis, but also because of its usefulness to parenting, foster adoptive and kinship, kiddos. So I wanted to begin with talking about something that we talk about a lot, which is parental attachment style. And it's a, I think that anytime we're talking about our own parenting and what triggers we have and and how we handle our children, it helps to start with our own attachment styles. So what do we mean by parental attachment style? And how does it influence how we parent? Done? This is a great question. I love to start here and my journey with tbri, I had to learn all of this during our own adoption journey. And these were principles that I would say I could I could feel in relationship, but I didn't have a framework for talking about them, or really labeling them. So what when we talk about an adult attachment style for you for myself, I would look at that that timeframe of zero to 12 months and look at who was my primary caregiver at that time. And we would take a look at that attachment cycle that plays out hundreds of 1000s of times in that first year of life. So when I cried out, you know, let's, let's imagine I'm crying in the middle of the night. What was my caregivers response? Our hope is that it's a attuned, sensitive, warm response that uh, that a mom or a dad or a loved one caregiver would come check on me pick me up, do I need to be fed? Do I need to be changed? Do I need Am I lonely? Do I need some company? So my experience in that first 12 months of life informs how I as an adult show up in relationship. So if I had a caregiver that when I cried out, didn't come and didn't respond. The message I learned in that first year of life was my voice doesn't matter. Or if I had a caregiver that came, but maybe they came in consistently, or they came but the the response wasn't attuned wasn't warm. I learned strategies as an infant, based on the caregiving I received. And we carry this into all of our relationships. We carry this into adulthood, and especially parenting, yes. Which is the oftentimes the most intense relationship that we have as an adult. Right. Right. All right, so we're going to talk about that some as we move on, and when we're doing some of the practical applications. How does trauma now most of the children are many of the children that we are parenting, have experienced some degree of trauma. And we tend to, we tend to think that trauma is only abuse, but in fact it can be neglect. There are some evidence that even neglect as is has causes more substantial damage to a child and that even abuse depending of course on who the abuser is. So how does trauma affect the Developing Child? When we look at trauma and you mentioned abuse, neglect, and we you know, a lot of my work is expanding that definition of trauma parents to understand this idea of relational trauma that you
benefit child, you know, is viewing domestic violence that's harmful, you know, being part of natural disasters, hurricanes, wars, all of these things impact. But the impacts of trauma we see in five ways we see a different brain. So if we were to look at brain scans of volume development, we would see a very different brain, biology, body, the child's belief system, and ultimately behavior, we see different behavior. And when we don't, as I learned about tbri, and through our journey as adoptive parents, I was focused solely on behavior, this behavior is baffling. I'm overwhelmed. This doesn't make sense, again, tantrums that were lasting hours. And I didn't understand all of the things driving that behavior. So really, those four things that you can't see a different brain biology, body and belief system, are what drive behavior.
And you're right, we as parents tend to focus on the thing that is driving us the craziest, which is often the behavior. But that is only the tip of the iceberg. Or maybe the I guess I just tip that would be the right way to say it. So let's now switch back. Let's go back to TPR. ISF mentioned that trust based relational intervention, what are the core principles of the tbri approach,
we have three core principles. First is connection. And when I say connection, I'm talking about connecting to the heart of a child, in the way I interact with this child, this child knows they are seen valued love, and they're precious. We also have empowering strategies. And that's where I'm looking at a child's physiological their bodily needs, I'm looking at how I set up the environment to support that child's regulation. And then ultimately, we have correcting principles, we know that even the best parent can be so attuned, so focused on meeting needs, and really understand and powering and still we're going to have behavioral issues, because we have kids. And so the correct team principles give parents a really nice roadmap. That is, for me, it was almost like an order of operations that I just needed, a structured framework that when behavior challenging behavior came my way, I had a framework for responding to it that not only brought calm back to our house, but helped get to the underlying what's happening here. And really showing my kids the behavior I wanted to see. So we have connecting, empowering and correcting principles encompass all that we do with tbri. Okay, excellent. And one other thing before we start going into the practical applications of those principles, one of the thing tbri talks about parents needing to make a mindset shift when looking at challenging behavior. What is the mindset shift that that parents need to make? Don, I can give you just a real like a story example. So our our son came to us. We had already been parents, we have three biological kids at the time we adopted, we thought we were pretty great parents. And when I say that, it's just, you know, we had great reports from the school and teachers loved having our kids in class. They had friends, they were getting invited to birthday parties. So we as parents were like, We're doing pretty well. We welcomed our adopted son into our home, how old was he? Three and a half. So he came to us after loss, abandonment, institutionalization, medical trauma and neglect. And those are the things that are in the file. Right. We also know there's countless things that don't make it into a child's file. And so he came home and are previously somewhat calm house went to it, it felt like chaos around here. 24/7 And he would have these tantrums. That would last an hour, two hours and I had never seen that in my children before. So before I really made that mindset shift my belief about his behavior was you could do better in this moment. You're choosing not to you could be calm, you could sit at the table and join into dinner, but you are making a choice to be an fill in the blank there disobedient, rude, aggressive, you could do better, but you're not and then I took it a step further and made it personal. You
You're doing this, this behavior just to make my life challenging just to push my buttons. And that that place that I was at is the epitome of that willful disobedience mindset.
And what's the mindset that tbri wants to shift us to
this shift. And to be so candid, this doesn't happen overnight. And it's a shift that we almost have to commit to every single day, is the belief that my child, my adopted children, might my biological children, you are doing the very best you can, given the circumstances. And when I see challenging behavior, I look at that instead of with frustration, or even shame as a parent, oh, my, my child's having a tantrum, this is so embarrassing. I look at that behavior with curiosity. And I look at it and ask myself the question, what is this behavior trying to communicate to me? What is the need behind this behavior? And I really, instead of taking it personally, and and allowing my own emotions to take over in that moment, I tried to figure out what am I missing? Why would this behavior make sense? And so then my role as a parent or a caregiver, is to come alongside my child who's having a hard time. They're not giving me a hard time, they're having a hard time. And I am there as a co regulator, what do they need? How can I support their brain, their body to bring about calm, and then in that complex, we can talk about whatever the underlying issue is? Yeah, Dr. Ross screen, and this will be a large paraphrase. But he says kids do well when they can. And that's the that, that if your child is struggling, there is something they need, there is something that's being unmet, there is a skill they don't have, as opposed to, as you point out before, they're making this choice. And it wasn't just do that goes there and says, and they're doing it to get to me, we all have a tendency to do that.
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All right, so now we've got our core principles, which are connection, empowering, and then correcting and approaching it all from the curiosity mindset of what is this behavior telling me that this child needs right now? So what's the what's the need? That's behind the behavior? So that's the overarching? So let's see what we've asked some of our community to tell us, what are some of the things that are particularly challenging? So one, I'm going to actually add this one, because I think this it's, I was going to talk about it on your tangents, but I think I'm gonna separate it, that inability to accept rules or restrictions are, or handling the word no, no, as a part of everyday life. And we know that generally, children when they are reaching the ages of two and three, and they're starting to separate and identify themselves as separate people from their parents, then they, they, that's when they first experience the meaning that that their will is not something that can always be had. And so we we assume that children past that very young toddler age, can accept some degree of restrictions and rules and the word no, so one of the struggles that parents report to us is that they have a child and the child says, and I'm gonna give specific, I'm gonna make up specific examples, feel free to change them, but I want to play Warcraft, and use the family rule is that you do your homework first, and that you only have x number of hours of minutes or whatever of screen time. It's over that. So you say, you know, we'll need to play that tomorrow. Because we are, we are past our time. And the kid falls apart, throws a fit tantrums, and more than just the pouting or the you know, just expressing displeasure. So let's use the tbri principles and see how we would approach that situation where you have a kid who's
10 Throwing a massive fit on the ground in your living room. I love that
This one every parent can relate to, to. And there's two parts to this. Number one, I would look at the overall and I want parents to think about it, like a bank account. If a child has come into your home through foster care through adoption, there have been some really big relational withdrawals from that bank account. No, you don't get to live with your biological family. No, you don't get to live with extended family, maybe no, you left a place that you loved. No, you left a pet that you love. No, you left things that you loved. So the children that we love that we serve have received really big nose at a really formative age. So no to them carries a lot, you're know for extra screen time is pinging on top of all of those really big nose they've received. So when we are working with parents, the first thing is to be mindful of the number of yeses to nose that you give. And it can't even be 5050. Because think about those really big withdrawals. So for every know that I give my child, I want to work on giving eight 910 yeses to every now.
Now every poor parent listening to this podcast is like this woman has lost her mind. That means we have to get creative about how we say yes. So for your screen time example. Yes, you get screen time every day. Yes, within the choices that are appropriate for our family, you get to choose when that happens. Yes, you can use it earlier in the afternoon. But that's going to mean that evening time when you like to calm down and relax with it, it won't be available. So the first thing is I would just think about that yes to no imbalance. And if you're giving a lot of noes, and are frustrated at why you're having these big emotional outbursts, it might be because that ratio is off. And you're going to need to get creative about giving yeses and we can talk about that in a minute. The other thing about screen time, for our we talked about traumas impact on the body, the brain screens are very, very, very attractive to our kids. It's color, it's movement, it's exciting. And it's a really, I would say deep hook, it's not to be avoided. It's just a really hard transition to make. So two very practical strategies. Number one, a visual timer. And I'm holding up a visual timer for Don to see it's a Time Timer. I've got these on my phone, for our kids time is a really nebulous concept. And so you have 30 minutes of your favorite something that can go by in an instant. And kids can't feel that that time passing. And so then they think it's only been five minutes, mom's trying to trick me and take away my time. So a visual timer, whether that's something that is right next to the TV that they can see whether it's something that's on your phone that they can kind of glance at and say oh my time is ticking down. Helps mark that for them. The other thing was screen time is to practice ending before you begin. And so my I have two little boys who this scenario fits them perfectly. I would say before we did this, we never had a successful and time even if I use the visual timer, even if I came in with Okay, three minutes left, two minutes left, one minute left, let's finish up your your game, your round your battle, whatever it was, when we started practicing how we were going to end before we started the activity. It wires the brain for the behavior you want to see in a moment that's calm and peaceful. And so I would practice for for the the video game example. Me walking in. Okay, boys, two minutes, okay, boys, one minute. All right, hands down, and they'd be like, okay, mom, and we'd practice turning off the TV turning off the video game console, putting the the video game controllers away. We would do that two or three times until, you know, okay, Mom, we've got it. And then they're ready to start their game and just that practice of getting a few reps in to do it the right way. Really smoothed out that transition for my kiddos. Okay, excellent. So a visual timer, meaning that you can see the time that is it's not just a 30 minute number, but you can see the time decreasing and so that they have the visual image of less time so that they can judge how much time they have and practicing the behavior of anything that you are looking for. Excellent. All right. Can you give us
It's an example of a tantrum that happened maybe with your son or with others, that you work with the tantrums that last so long because honestly, all children tantrum, and there are certain ages, quite frankly, that tantrum is developmentally normal, appropriate, healthy and, and right on target. But when our children are older past that stage where we're expecting tantrums, and when the intensity of the tantrum is just bigger than what the situation seems to call for, how do we handle that if you could give us a practice, everyday situation that maybe occurred, if not, I can come up, I got plenty and come up with some text.
Oh, we've we've got these. So very commonplace in our home, when our son first arrived in our home were tantrums where, let's say he would clear all the objects off the table, he would flip a table, he would kick a chair, just he aggressive towards anyone in his space, so that that level of dysregulation, if we were to pull up a sheet and have our tbri Correcting principles, that would be level three behavior, what's happening in a child, and I say, child, our children who've experienced trauma, their developmental age, their emotional age, about half their chronological age. So we might have a 10 year old, I think that was the example you have, who has the street smarts of, of an 18 year old, but the emotional regulation capacity of a five year old, all in one body. So let's say I have that level of aggression acting out, you know, throwing things, that's level three behavior. What I know is happening in the in the child's brain and body is their sympathetic nervous system has activated, they are in fight flight or freeze, they do not have access to their prefrontal cortex. That's the part of the brain that has the oh, let's let's think about the consequences of
yeah, really all the behavior, you want to see what's going to be the effect if I punch? If I punch a hole in the wall, what's going to be the effect? Yeah, absolutely. Every behavior a parent, an adult in charge wants to see is in the prefrontal cortex. And when a child's sympathetic nervous system is activated, when they're in fight, flight, or freeze, they simply do not have access to that. So things that I used to do that I don't do anymore, I would at that point in time be giving my best lecture on what they did wrong, I would be asking questions of the child, what are you thinking what is happening, I will be adding more to the situation. Also, if my child was dysregulated, I wasn't really great at regulating myself at that point in time. So if they were amped up, I would get amped up, my voice would get loud, I would, I would start yelling, I would then feel flooded with emotion, didn't help the situation, and really, obviously prolonged these tantrums. I will tell you now in our journey five years into it, we only have tantrums like this, if I miss something, when it's at a low level, if I miss, for example, on Saturdays, if my kids get up early, and they haven't had breakfast, and I've gotten up a little later, and I haven't known, oh, gosh, nobody's had any protein today. And you know, we get into something big, that's when it happens. But what to do in these scenarios, the adults focus is not on correcting the behavior, lecturing about the behavior that the adults focus with Level Three behavior is bringing calm to the situation. So what I used to do, lecture stop that even restraining a child, we would say follow your state guidelines in terms of restraints, but for a child who has been abused me coming along, and restraining feels a whole lot like the abuse that they probably experienced. So when my focus shifted to bringing calm to the situation, that would look like here's it, I'm down on the child's level. If the child is yelling, and their voice is amplified, maybe their bodies big and their arms are big, I would make myself small, that conveys to the child through my body language, I'm not a threat. I'm here to help. I pay attention to my voice. If a child is elevated and amped. I'm going to bring my voice lower and slower to try and bring calm to the situation. I know my kids well enough to know that questioning even if I were to ask what do you need? They don't they can't tell me what they they needed. They're just they have literally
don't have access to that part of their brains. So I bring out a cold glass of water, I bring out a little snack, I might go and hand them and offer them a weighted item. We have some noise cancelling headphones with soothing music, I might offer something like that. A lot of times movement brings calm to a situation. So I might say, Should we just go outside and get a breath of fresh air? Do you want to just go for a little walk for a minute, I can see you're really frustrated. I'll try and briefly name, what's happening in their body looks like you're really angry, it looks like you're really mad, you're frustrated. It looks like you're sad about something too. And then I'm offering suggestions of things. And, and I know my kids well enough, and we've worked done this dance enough times that I know things that are are calming to them. So I would bring calm to the situation. And that's, you know, we're activating the parasympathetic nervous system and all of those that calms down all of the excitatory neurotransmitters that are just, you know, the cortisol dump that's just racing through this kid's body. Once they're calm, we can then go back and say, Well, what's happening there and do some problem solving. But I don't problem solve, when the kid is hot anymore. And I really focus on how can I bring calm to the situation?
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Let's bring in now let's go back to the beginning and talk about parental attachment styles. So let's from a practical standpoint, and don't use yourself necessarily as an example. You're welcome to but so a child is is having big emotions, level three and tbri jargon but big emotions that seem outsized to the event. And and calm is certainly not present in your home at that point. How does our our attachment styles, or the way that we were parented influence our tendency or go to our default way? Now we can open it, let's put this up, we can always in fact, we want. That's the whole purpose of this is to overcome what our default comfort mechanism is. But it helps to understand what what's our go to what's our natural go to because of the way we were parented. So how does that influence in this example of a tantruming? Child? That's a great question. I'll tell you, I grew up in western Montana, I come from a family of farmers, we are hardy people, you feed the cows rain or shine, wind or storm. And that also means part of that is is really dismissive. And so any kind of negative emotion was not acceptable in our family. And so that shows up with things like if you need to be sad, if you need to be mad, you can go to your room, you can come out when you're ready to put a smile on your face, you can come out when you're ready to be nice. And so the message that I got as a kid was, if I want to keep my caregiver close, I can not display any kind of negative behaviors because that will get me a ticket to my room by myself. So if you have a dismissive tendency, when your kid is having a hard time, your default is going to be you need to go on a timeout. You need to go on your own and cool yourself down the inaccuracy and that is that kids can't calm down on their own. They really need us that that CO regulation, they really need somebody to come and show them how to calm down. So the challenge for someone with a dismissive background is going to be okay, number one, I have to say call myself and number two, I have to step closer to those big emotions. When my history says if you're feeling that way, you get sent away. Yeah, I'm uncomfortable with that. Yeah. So and if your parenting was such that it was hot and
Hold, sometimes your parent responded, sometimes they didn't. And you were left to oftentimes feel like you had to be the one to kind of constantly work to bring things to bring closeness. That's another dynamic, not yours, but others. But another one, how would that influence a kid throwing a complete tantrum, without thinking it through what would be the default for somebody who is in that, who has that style of parental attachment in their background, that might be a parent who injects themselves into the situation too much. So instead of my child's having a hard time what might be going on, this becomes about the parent then, and oh, is this reflecting on my parenting, the parent might get overly involved. And instead of having kind of this objective lens, it becomes about soothing the parent, we do see, and sometimes these tantrums and stayin upset, with a more entangled parent. That's a kid strategy to keep that parent close when and I'll tell you, we saw this when our son first came home, he would be playing outside, he's a really active kid be running and playing, having a great time, he'd fall down on the grass, just a little tumble. His response was, as if he had just broken a leg, it was a really exaggerated response. And that was a strategy he learned unless I'm really, really over the top upset, I'm crying, I'm screaming, I'm flailing around, no one will pay attention to me. So he he had this exaggerated response. And it was an attempt to keep us close, and we had to work on but or you can just tell me, I have a hurt, and I'll come close. Even if it's not bleeding, it's not bruised. If you just need me to come close, I'll come close. And he hadn't had that experience. And so it might be a child that stays upset to keep a caregiver close, or a caregiver who's attempts to calm become overly intrusive, or focused on their needs, and not the child's needs. Okay. All right. Another example of a challenging behavior, very real life is a child who constantly wind for everything that is there go to, and from the parent standpoint, it's getting really annoying. So what is the let's use the principles of tbri and the curiosity mindset to apply that to the situation. And let's pick an age tell us say a seven year old. All right, whining, really, really common behavior? And maybe a parent strategy would have been like mine prior to tbri? Would you like cheese with that whine? I know, that's something parents have heard, we've heard the advice, just ignore that behavior, and it will go away. And sometimes it does. But very often, especially with some kids, it doesn't, right, and then you're elevated, the behavior hasn't changed. And nobody is content with how that interaction is going. So the things that come to mind is that when a child has this sense of voice, they don't need to use whining. And what that means is the child knows that when I speak, my parent, my caregiver will listen, they will stop what they're doing, they will get down on my level, they will give me eye contact. And I always use the term soft eyes, you know, that warm eye contact, and I will be able to just use my regular voice and tell them either what I'm thinking a question I have an I can get that. When a child doesn't get that regularly, they'll figure out how to get your attention. And that unwinding could be a strategy that simply your your son, your daughter saying, Hey, mom, and let's say you're in a busy household like ours, we have four kids working schedules, and maybe I just halfway give my attention to my child that I'm like, Yeah, I'm listening, but I'm still loading the dishwasher. I'm still prepping dinner. The child feels like they don't have my full attention. But when they're whining, they have my eyes. They have my full intention. They're going to realize this gets me what I need. And so that's one principle. Am I really when my child speaks? Do they know that that alone is enough? Another principle that I'm hearing in it, and this is DOD, all of this is new to me. I had to look at all of these areas and say, Okay, this was this was the default I grew up with, is this still serving us? Well, but it's the idea
of sharing power. And so how this sharing power was not a thing that was part of how I grew up. And if the phrase you know, my way or the highway is familiar to you, as a listener, I'm going to tell you, that's the way you grew up, too. And so, this idea of let's, you know, any scenario, I want to watch video games, maybe, you know, let's go back to our video game example. And if I were to say, to not share power, and just say, we only watch video games from seven to 730, and that's it. And you know, it's not 730. And let's say it's after school, and the kid is just following me around video games, video games, video games, maybe that's a place to share power and say, okay, the non negotiable is 30 minutes. If you want to do that from four to 430, and then do your homework, you've got to show me how you're going to follow through with that commitment. I'm worried a little bit that you're going to do your fun thing, and then not you do your responsibilities. So how can we just make sure you get to relax and that your jobs get get to be done so. So the the compromise or the willingness where I'm willing to share power might be the order and things when things are done, or the time a fun thing is done? Or, you know, maybe I'm willing to say, let's do a little bit of this, pause and do our video games, and then finish a task where before I would say, all the homework needs to be completed? Before I will even entertain the idea of video games. When our kids again, no, that will give them not only our attention, but we'll listen to their ideas. That gives them a sense of agency of voice where they don't need to resort to whining to get our attention. Okay, so you're you're hitting the the connection and the empowering steps? And if I correct that you're focusing your attention on those first, because ultimately, those will have a long term impact on changing the behavior. Are there any correcting principles that you would use? In a level three? No, but in this case, we're not at level three. Right? So are there correcting principles that you could bring into our Do you feel like there probably wouldn't be necessary? No, the correcting principles that would fall into this, and this is where we would practice, scripts, scripts are part of the correcting principles. And it's really a proactive way. And they're short, powerful phrases. And so for whining, I might say with respect, try it again. With respect. I might say, use your words, or there's a phrase we use that's like your real voice. I want to hear the real you. Maybe we would practice and practice in a fun way where, you know, let's take a topic that people want on at the table. And we could all take a turn. Maybe you're a dinner and your tastes I don't like Pele and game EP, please write everybody practices declining piece. And first, we practice the wrong way. Oh, PS. You we want we add all the wine in there. It's not only is it a pressure release valve and marks that's not the behavior I want to see, when parents can make it really funny and make themselves sound like their children. That adds to connection. And so then we do it the right way. No, thanks. I'll pass on the piece. Thanks for dinner mom, you know, we practice it the right way. So the thing that when I first started to hear about tbri, I was like, This sounds great. These people really seem like they know what they're talking about. However, I'm in chaos I am in the weeds. And what I didn't understand at the time, I mean, I was spending 90% of my day in correcting land. No stop that. Ah, no, pulling kids off each other reap setting rooms that had been trashed. when I really started to look at connecting and empowering. That's now where I spend 45% of my time connecting 45% empowering and I don't need correcting as much anymore. I still need it. My kids are human. We all have bad days, bad moments, challenging things. But I catch things at such a low level that they don't escalate anymore. And before I didn't have the ability to see things happening at a low level and I didn't have you know, five different options for responding before it got to crisis level. Right? Yeah, you probably didn't even recognize the stage one as as the stage it was just Yes until it got to a bigger thing was only when you get gets our attention which is so, so normal and hard.
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All right sleep issues. That's a tough one. Because none of us are at our best when we're being and when we're in our sleep is disrupted. So let's think of an example where let's say that you are a person a child waking up and crying out multiple times a night just to have a parent come and a child wanting a parent to sleep in the room with them, or vice versa. And I'm well aware that there are parents who that is not something they would care about that would be fine, they would do that. But let's say you are a person who wants to sleep in your bed, and you need your sleep. So how would you handle how would you use the connecting, empowering and potentially correcting to address multiple times sleep issues multiple times waking up wanting to sleep in the bed having parents in their bed, whatever? This is a great one. This is one we've lived through. And I will tell you people will ask me are you a night owl? Are you an early bird and I'm like what's the kind of person who wants to go to bed early and sleep in I love sleep. I will say at around 8:30pm When I stopped laughing at jokes when nothing is funny anymore, my kids will be like, Oh, Mama's all out a nice
weight. And so I can definitely empathize with this, okay, you're telling me I need to be a good parent, I've got to work on self regulation. But when I'm up multiple times a night that's really hard for me.
So things to consider, let's look at this holistically big picture. Many, many children were harmed at night, whether that was physical abuse, sexual abuse, that's when they're hearing domestic fighting happening. So you know, as much as we all wish that nighttime was this blissful time where we just float on clouds and think of you know, bunnies and rainbows for the children we love and serve that hasn't been their reality. So as we get closer to to bedtime, their stress levels in their body go up on their own, based on the experiences they've had. So things like a ritual and a routine at night is is really really helpful and that might be bed and then you know a bath and then snack and reading and, and bedtime. To get really practical, I can tell you and we have this you know Jack in the Box issue can tell you all of the things I've done to keep my kids in and then kind of how I handle it when they can't keep stay in their room for the evening. Some of the things that were triggering, being in a in a pitch black, very quiet place. My son had previously lived in an orphanage. He was never alone in a room he would go to sleep with many many children in a room that was that was loud through the night. So this beautiful little space that we had created for him that was dark and quiet. So really, really uncomfortable. And that it didn't feel right. So things that we we do and we still do my boys share a room. They have a lamp for that stays on all night. The mom and me is like Oh, I I believe that sleeping in a pitch back room is better for you. But if it's not comfortable, and it's going to cause you to wake up and say where am I? It's not worth it. They have a little fan that's on. They fall asleep listening to audiobooks, you know, we read to our kids, but they really want the experience of drifting off and not feeling like they're alone and so they listen to audiobooks or there's little sleep stories on the comm app. For some kids, my son sleeps with a weighted blanket he really likes that deep proprioceptive input it feels calming so he gets all of his stuffed animals organized. We often have a an essential oil diffuser with lavender going in. So I'm really trying to set the tone of you know, thinking through the senses sight sound, all of these things. What does he need? There have been times where we have a lovable golden retriever we're having the dog stay in their room feels like another guarding
presents. My boys, their room is right across the hall. And when our son first came home, we would leave our door open and his door open, because he really had that sense of when I can't see you. Are you still there? Or am I on my own, like I've been most of my life. And so while I would prefer a quiet room with just a fan, we had to be flexible on that. And so he would lay in his bed, and I would lay in my bed and I would say, buddy, can you hear me and we could talk back and forth. Just this, this feeling of, you know, developing on our kids felt safety, and it's not my adult intellectual knowledge, you're safe. We've locked the doors, you know, nobody is going to come and disturb you or harm you while you're sleeping or in the night. But unless our kids feel that our job isn't done, and so it was trying to figure out these, these things that would feel comforting for him. So that's the whole setup.
One scenario we hear a lot is the let's say, Jack in the box where you you put love bear to bed and two minutes later there by your side, I need a drink of water. Put love bear back to bed with a drink of water. I am now need a snack. Okay, we do the snack, I need a back scratch. And so in this scenario, I would think about that ritual leading up to bed and making sure that all of those things, you know you have a snack right before bed. Many of our kids went to bed starving and so a little rumble of hunger in their in their belly isn't what it is for us. Oh, I'll get breakfast in the morning. I'm fine. I've had a wonderful day of nutritious food. A little bit of hunger signals. I'm in danger. So having a protein rich snack right before bed, even allowing kids and Dr. Karen Purvis was great at this, she'd say if food insecurity was an issue, have a little basket with raisins with nuts with things that the adult says that's okay, but it's always available. So make maybe there's a snack right before bed or a snack that's on their table right by their bed, their water is right there, you've given them their back scratch. For a child that's regularly getting out of bed, you know, it could be am I missing out on some fun, especially for our younger kiddos, it isn't fun happening without me. For our son, it was more are you going to leave, when I go to sleep are you know when my defenses are down, am I going to wake up and be alone. And so for that, what we would recommend is parents set a timer on your phone. And so you're gonna tuck your little your little person in, or maybe they're your big person. And you're gonna say I'm gonna be back in one minute, just to give a little check on you. You've got two parents set a timer on your phone, or you will walk in back into the kitchen and see the dishes or see things to do. And forget that commitment to your kiddo. But you're gonna set a 62nd timer in 60 seconds. So you're gonna go back in and in a very, it's just a very brief check in, it's not a whole redo of the whole bedtime ritual. It's just, you know, maybe re snuggling those covers and and one quick warm hand on the back and saying good night, I'm going to come back in two minutes and check on you. So it's this scaffolding process from being with a parent or with people all day to being on my own. And as a parent checks in one minute, two minutes, four minutes. And maybe you're needing to do this for for a period of time. But we have to build up that trust in our child that I'm still here, even when you're sleeping. I'm still here, I'm still available. I'm still thinking about you, I'm still checking on you. So if you have some a little person or a child who's getting out of bed, that's the strategy I would recommend. And maybe even you know, you're sitting in a chair right outside their room. I'm still here, you know, to do that check in.
If you have a child and let's say it's the middle of the night, and they're getting up and it's it's not right when you're tucking them in that they're popping in and out of bed, but it's it midnight, it's a two, it's at four when all of us grownups would like to be sleeping. The part that parents aren't going to love to hear is you have to leave a little capacity in your tank for nighttime parenting. Our babies that were harmed at night, nighttime is where a lot of that comes out. And we have to leave a little reserve in the tank to respond to that. So I would say, you know, I'm not available in the nighttime isn't a great strategy for our kids that have experienced this kind of trauma. I used to do a lot of nighttime parenting and now I'd
do very, very little. Because once you meet the need and can establish trust, during that time when they're needing you, again, we're able to scaffold away. So what that might look like is, you know, for a kid that calls out in the night or even, you know, I know, Darren Jones leads our outreach team, and he would talk about, you know, a baby monitor in the child's room. So you could hear, if a child's crying in the middle of the night, they need you, that might be the only time they're able to process all of these emotions around, whatever brought them into care and how they're feeling about their new situation. So that's definitely when they need parental support. So leaving capacity for yourself, going in and being able to check on the child. When our son first came home, we had it arranged where, you know, we had a little mat on the floor in their rooms that if somebody was having a hard time, we could come in, give that BackRub, give that reassurance offer the water, and then say, I'm going to be right here, if you need me, and we would, you know, sleep on a little, you know, I think it was little camp caught in there boom, as their comfort as my son's comfort group that change too. If you need me, you need to come and let me know. And you can come into mom's room. And maybe I have a little cot for him in my room. So we're thinking about how do I meet the need, while simultaneously minimizing that sleep disruption. And so, for me, it was easier to say, I'm sorry, you're having a hard time and I would hug him. You're safe. You're okay. And then we had a camp cot that was at the foot of our bed. Would you like to snuggle in here? And can I tuck you in here? Or would you like to go back into your room? When my kids are sick? I also say this to them. And I have big kids now I've teens, but I will say to them, if you need mama in the middle of the night, you come and get me and they'll say oh, no, no, Mom, I don't want to. I don't want to I don't want to interrupt your sleep. You know, I don't want to wake you up. And I'll say, if you need your mama, you need your mama. That's what she's here for. Come and get me and that sense of we're conveying to our kids, no matter what. No matter when I'm here for you. This might be a strategy where if there's two parents in the home, dads on tap one night moms on tap one night, I mean, you really do have to pay attention to your, your internal stress and and you know if it's mom getting up every time every night, you know that's a surefire recipe for burnout. Yeah, but if we're able to work some of these strategies in, we're able to reassure our kiddos in the night, the behaviors do fade. Yes, absolutely. The last thing I want to talk to you about is lying. That was a hot button item for me. I immediately went into the moral in my head about oh my gosh, what am I raising a child? I'm not talking petty lies, but I'm talking about lies that repeated lie sometimes lying before we're thinking that type of thing. And I would, I would it's scary. I mean, I think that some of my reaction was a fear reaction of, okay, this kid's going to be in jail by the time they're, you know, 18 because they can't tell the truth. And so I think I know that I moved into that cat hat into that mode. So let's talk about lying. And we're not talking about, you know, I don't have you know, no, I don't have any math homework. We know the cause of that. They don't want to do their homework. And you can set up ways around that. Don't ask the question, as you know, look at their look at their planner, things like that. But I'm talking about kids who who lie repeatedly. And sometimes kids who lie when it's not even benefiting them just lying in general. Great question. And in our work, we would say I mean, let's up the ante, we would say Oh, lying and stealing usually, yeah, let's come together and do they could certainly go together. You lie, right? Stealing. Yes. Absolutely. And so, before tbri, I would take that like you very personally, I have failed as a parent. Yes, you will be a felon. Yes, I would catastrophize this, this situation, which then again, I couldn't, I would, I wouldn't be able to access my upstairs brain, I wouldn't be able to respond in the way that I wanted. So let's take a step back. And let's think about the kid that if when you're having a hard time, you're mad, you're sad, you're frustrated, you're lonely, your parents responses you need to go to your room, and you can come out when you're ready to be nice. The message that sends and many many of us had that experience was when I'm having a hard time I'm on my own. So part of the line might be ah, I
I've made a mistake here. And I don't know how to go to my parents and say, I've messed up with this. A lot of the times, if our reaction to our kids when they've messed up, they've made a mistake. They've disappointed us. If we don't come alongside and say, Okay, what's happening here? What are the facts? How do we work together, if they haven't had that experience, they are going to cover the cover themselves up, cover the situation up in shame, in in lies, essentially, to avoid whatever our big reaction is going to be, or their fear of what our reaction because based on what adults previous to us, even if we are overreacting, or reacting in a way that is frightening, the other adults in their lives may have. Absolutely so an example that comes to mind. And it's funny now, wasn't really funny at the time, a neighbor friend comes over, in a moment where I have two boys, my oldest son is inside, this neighbor's out on our trampoline with my younger son, and he has a pocket knife, he carves a hole in our trampoline, and it was this. I'm a little guy, you know, I'm 10 years old. And he was thinking, Oh, Wouldn't it be funny? If somebody fell in the hole? I mean, you're like, oh, my gosh, that's so dangerous, but comes out. Later that afternoon, we discover the hole and it you know, it is obvious it is saw marks, this child is the only one with a pocket knife. My younger son is like I saw him do I mean all of the stars are aligning. So I go to this child, and I'm like, can you tell me what happened? And this child chooses to lie. We were jumping too hard. And we stretched a hole on the trampoline. Now, I'm looking at that. And that's just not possible. Can you tell me what happened? Nope, I haven't. And so I knew for this kid that based on if I tell you what happened, am I going to lose privileges am I going to you know, for some parents, maybe if a child makes a mistake, they get a spanking, they get a timeout, they lose privileges to their bike. And so if that's my response as a, the adult in charge to mistakes, the the natural flow of that is a child is going to lie, to get out of any of any of those kinds of consequences. So what I said to this, this child, he's not my son said, here's what's going to happen, I need you to tell me what happened. And I need you to be truthful. And when you're truthful, what we're going to do is we're going to fix the mistake. So what that means is we're either going to get a patch, and I would like you and I to put that patch on the trampoline together. If we aren't able to patch it, we'll need to buy a new one. And then I would ask you to help me put the new one on together. That's what's going to happen. I'm also going to ask that when you come over to our house, because you're still invited over, let's make sure that if you have a pocket knife that stays at home, and for me, the adult I realized they needed more supervision. So this is a friend we love. But when he comes over, this isn't a friend that thinks about consequences and long term actions. So I needed to do more of this. So I was able to say, this is what's going to happen, when you are ready to tell me the truth. I'm ready to listen, he wasn't ready to tell me the truth right away, because he had had all of this patterning of if I tell you what I did, I'm in really, really big trouble. And that's probably going to be the end of our relationship. And so when I was able to say when you're ready, and it was a couple days later that he said, I got my knife out. And I was I thought this joke would be funny. And then I wanted to know how hard I'd have to push to push through the trampoline. I mean, then it became a whole sensory experience. But when kids are lying to us, it's usually because they're not sure how we're going to react with the truth or we've reacted poorly in the past. And that's the whole How can I come alongside and say, Everybody makes mistakes? I've I've made plenty I've made plenty of mistakes today. In fact, let's figure out what happened, how we can repair this, how we can move forward. And that's what when kids have that experience. The line behavior fades. And one thing I would throw in there is that sometimes what we think of as a lie is an actual fact not the lie as we would define it. I'll give you an example of a child with a slower processing speed is quickly ask a question of how did this happen or did you do this or or what happened? And the first thing that they're they said
They will not notice they're not even processing at that point, what they're really trying to do is slow things down. So it does give an answer. And not having thought through whether the answer is true or not true, because that really wasn't important to them at that point, what they were trying to do is slow everything down so that they could then catch up. And a way around that that is so effective is to say, I'm going to come back in five minutes. And I'm going to ask you this question. I want you to think about it now. And once you tell me the truth, when I come back, and then we could go in and say, and we're going to figure out a solution. But the main thing is to give them time, and I found that to be a very effective, depending on the reasons that one of the reasons, it could be less moral, and just developmental, or in this particular case, slow processing. Absolutely. And our kids do if we are constantly coming at them with questions, who did this? What happened? What were you thinking? They are going to make up some default answers. Yes, I don't know. My sister did it and just have those at the ready to kind of keep us at bay. And so how we approach in conversation, and we talk about things that are challenging, giving them time and space to process, all of that. It leads to better outcomes. And that's what we're all hoping for. Thank you so much. Kerry dadey, for being with us today to talk about practical applications of TBR. I truly appreciate your approach and appreciate the tbri approach. So thank you. Well, thanks for having me. This understanding, embracing the strategy has changed our lives. My biological kids would say, Oh, she's become a much better mom. I mean, it was just things I didn't know I needed to learn. And as we have incorporated this just into the way that we do life in our family, we have a much more connected calm home than I could have ever dreamed for. Not all the time. I've gotten more rascals, but just that level of whatever comes our way. We're in it together and we'll figure it out. That's a really comforting feeling for kids to grow up. It absolutely is. Thank you.
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