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Tuesday, March 03, 2015

The IDEAL Response to Parenting - Dr. Karyn Purvis

Okay, I know I can't stop talking about the work of Dr. Karyn Purvis.  But, seriously, she's rocked my world on the issue of parenting kids from hard places.  But I've discovered that her parenting strategies are SO not just for those who have adopted, fostered, or have any kind of struggling or traumatized kids.  We're just talking sound, sound parenting ideas.

Dr. Puvis' overall strategy is called TBRI, which means Trust Based Relational Intervention.  But she's developed an acronym to establish the basics of discipline/correction concepts, too.  The acronym is "I.D.E.A.L."


I – Immediate
D – Direct
E – Efficient
A – Action-based
L – Leveled at the behavior (not the child)


Immediate:  This means, well, immediate.  Studies show that you have three seconds to either correct or praise your child's behavior so that it has a lasting value.  So, whether you need to say "Well done using your words to ask for juice," or "Can we try asking again, with respect?," there's a very short window in which we need to respond in order to get the maximum, lasting benefits we're looking for.

Direct:  Dr. Purvis suggests being within three feet of your child (touching distance) when you want to connect with them.  No more lobbing 'Stop that!' from the kitchen to the living room.  :)  Instead, whether you are correcting or just finding out about their day, being within three feet, facing them and looking into their eyes helps them to feel that you are fully present and connected to them.

Efficient:  This means everything from using as few words as possible to not over reacting.  Level a response to the child that's actually realistic for what they're doing.  Giving choices is a great use of this point. . .if a child is screaming for a candy bar, for example, you can give them two choices, perhaps a yogurt or a piece of fruit, using few words and a non-permissive tone.

Action-Based:  This was one of the most interesting to me.  Dr. Purvis explained the concept of a "sensory motor neuro loop" as a body memory much like muscle memory.  This means, simply put, that if you help your kid to have a body memory of making the right choice or doing the right thing, it will go a long way toward establishing a neurological pathway to the positive behaviors you're looking for.  Brain research shows that, while your child might start out with a mega-freeway to undesirable behaviors, the more you help your child _do_ and _say_ the right thing, the larger and more established the neuro-path to the positive behavior becomes. This is largely done by "do-overs."
Example:  Your child is asked to pick up his toys.  He throws a fit and refuses.  Using Immediate, Direct, Efficient language, you discover that your child is actually hungry and wants to eat a snack first.  The Action-Based phase might be something like: "I hear you want to eat a snack before picking up the toys.  Give me good eyes (meaning "look at me") and good words and ask again with respect."  When the child does finally ask with respect, praise them immediately (three second rule!) and they will have established a body memory for doing and saying the right thing.

Leveled at the Behavior (not the child):  Okay, I confess this one was a little hard for me at first.  It can be soooooo difficult to not remind our children of past mistakes or errors when confronted, for the zillionth time, with the same issue.  But if our goal is to connect with and correct our child in a lasting way, bringing up the fact they they ALWAYS leave the door open when coming in, or this is the TENTH time today we've had to remind them not to have their music up too loud, then we've defeated our long-term purpose and missed an opportunity to widen the pathway to the positive behavior we're looking for.

So, keep to the incident as if it had never happened before.  Keep your response leveled at the actual behavior, rather than a accumulation of the frustration that has been building on this issue or due to a bad day, etc., help your child with a do-over that establishes a good body memory, and then LET IT GO.  No more bringing it up.

At the end of the day, our goal has got to be to give voice to our children (teaching them to advocate for themselves and negotiate for their own needs in a positive way) and connect with our children (make sure they know we love them, they're precious to us, and we're here to help them succeed).

Now, isn't that "Ideal?"

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