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Helpful Strategies for the TBRI® Levels of Response

Keep in mind that children who come from challenging backgrounds, such as those who are adopted, have experienced abuse, or struggle with attachment issues, often struggle to express themselves, which can erode their sense of safety and trust in adults. It's crucial to respond effectively to their behaviors, matching the level of response to the situation at hand. Overreacting to minor issues can escalate behaviors further.

Here are some strategies aimed at ensuring children feel heard and supported by safe adults, outlined by the TBRI Levels of Response:

Playful Engagement (Level 1):

  • Playfully redirect children without interrupting the flow of interaction.
  • Use a playful tone to encourage them to communicate their needs effectively.
  • Consistency in using this approach can significantly reduce misbehavior over time and strengthen the caregiver-child relationship.

Structured Engagement (Level 2):

  • Pause the situation and adopt a more structured tone without resorting to yelling.
  • Offer two choices or a compromise, empowering the child to make decisions and use their voice constructively.
  • Behavioral 're-dos' help reinforce positive behaviors and build trust.

Calming Engagement (Level 3):

  • Assist children in regulating their emotions with adult support.
  • Implement a time-in approach, keeping children close rather than isolating them, to provide guidance and reassurance.
  • Collaborate with adolescents to create calming strategies and designated spaces for them to retreat to when overwhelmed.

Protective Engagement (Level 4):

  • Reserve this level for situations involving violence or aggression, where the child's safety is at risk.
  • Offer simple, reassuring phrases to comfort the child, acknowledging their emotional state.
  • Seek appropriate training and prioritize the child's needs over disciplinary measures.

The goal of employing these levels is to encourage children to express their needs verbally rather than through challenging behaviors. The emphasis should be on fostering communication, trust, and mutual understanding between caregivers and children. Remember, the levels serve as guidelines, and the priority is always to nurture a positive connection and guide children toward the appropriate expression of their needs, ultimately aiming to return to a state of Playful Engagement where both parties feel content and connected. If you want to know more about TBRI® please come to one of our three class series and learn more tools together with other caregivers going through what you are going through. Call 702-546-9988 or email to ask about the next class series.

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