Managing the Flight Response
Managing the flight response in children using Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI®) involves understanding and addressing the underlying reasons for their flight response while providing a safe and supportive environment. Here are some strategies for managing flight response in children using TBRI®:
Create a Safe Environment: Establish an environment where the child feels safe and secure. Minimize triggers and provide physical and emotional safety. Use calming strategies, such as creating a calm-down corner or providing sensory tools, to help the child regulate their emotions.
Connection and Trust: Build a trusting relationship with the child. Show empathy, patience, and consistency. Offer reassurance and validate their feelings. Let the child know that you are there to support them and that their emotions and concerns are valid.
Understanding the Flight Response: Educate yourself about the flight response and its triggers. Recognize that flight is a survival mechanism rooted in the child's past experiences. Approach the child's behaviors with compassion and seek to understand their perspective.
Normalize and Validate Emotions: Validate the child's feelings and emotions. Let them know that their flight response is a natural reaction to perceived threats. Normalize their experience and reassure them that you are there to help them feel safe.
Gradual Exposure: If possible and appropriate, gradually expose the child to the situations or triggers that elicit their flight response. Start with small steps and provide support and reassurance along the way. This approach can help the child build resilience and gradually expand their comfort zone.
Teach Self-Regulation Skills: Help the child develop self-regulation skills to manage their flight response. Teach deep breathing exercises, mindfulness techniques, or other coping strategies to help them stay grounded in moments of anxiety or fear.
Predictability and Routine: Establish consistent routines and provide clear expectations for the child. Predictability and structure can help reduce anxiety and provide a sense of safety and control.
Slowly Build Trust: Focus on building trust with the child over time. Respect their boundaries and give them space when needed. Let them know that they can trust you and that you will support them during challenging situations.
Trauma-Informed Approach: Recognize and address any underlying trauma that may be contributing to the child's flight response. Provide trauma-informed care, seek professional guidance if needed, and consider therapy or counseling to help the child heal from past experiences.
Collaborate with Support Systems: Engage and collaborate with the child's support systems, such as caregivers, therapists, or teachers. Share information, strategies, and resources to ensure consistent and supportive care across different settings.
Remember that managing the flight response requires patience, understanding, and ongoing support. By implementing trauma-informed strategies and focusing on building trust and connection, you can help the child feel safe and supported as they navigate their flight response.