Levels of Response™
Level 4: Protective Engagement
Occasionally, even with the hard work you are doing as a parent to avoid meltdowns, kids will get aggressive. This might look like a child causing serious property damage, a physical altercation with a sibling, or a toddler yelling “No!” while simultaneously slapping you in the forehead with a block. While kids are showing aggressive behavior outside, there is a huge release of cortisol happening inside their bodies. The brain is functioning only from that amygdala, and higher level thinking is gone. Again, this is not the opportunity to correct, so keep those teaching moments in your pocket for later.
In these situations, there is a threat of danger and physical harm to the child or another person. It is your job in this moment to minimize harm and to let your child know that you’re the boss and everyone will be safe.
The Settlement Home only allows foster and adoptive parents to use Short Personal Restraint with children, which means holding their arms for 60 seconds or less to prevent serious harm or significant property damage. This might mean scooping up your flailing child from the middle of the cereal/candy aisle of the grocery store (because who ever thought THAT was a good idea?) and walking with them to a private area to remove the audience. This also might mean grabbing that toddler hand holding the block before it connects with your forehead, or physically separating two children who are fighting.
Once you are in a quiet place, remove objects that can be used as projectiles. Be physically present with your child as they calm down. Practice some deep breathing. Once your kiddo is calm, you can talk with them about what they need to feel safe again. Only then is it the right time to start talking about re-dos and expectations.
Lastly, and most importantly, when it’s over, it’s over. Return to being your playful self and let that train start moving forward again!
What is TBRI®?
TBRI® is an attachment-based, trauma-informed intervention that is designed to meet the complex needs of vulnerable children. TBRI® uses Empowering Principles to address physical needs, Connecting Principles for attachment needs, and Correcting Principles to disarm fear-based behaviors. While the intervention is based on years of attachment, sensory processing, and neuroscience research, the heartbeat of TBRI® is connection.
TBRI® is designed for children from “hard places” such as abuse, neglect, and/or trauma. Because of their histories, it is often difficult for these children to trust the loving adults in their lives, which often results in perplexing behaviors. TBRI® offers practical tools for parents, caregivers, teachers, or anyone who works with children, to see the “whole child” in their care and help that child reach his highest potential.
Want to know more? Visit TCU’s Institute of Child Developmenthttp://child.tcu.edu/.