This weekend I attended the Empowered to Connect conference with my friend Adrienne. I have been a big fan of Dr. Karyn Purvis, who coauthored The Connected Child, for a couple of years now. But I never imagined that this precious woman would radically transform my life during 16 short hours of of training. She gave me something that I desperately needed…..
Hope that profound healing for my children is not only within my reach, but that I am more than capable of being the agent of change in my children’s lives. I had read The Connected Child several times, but it wasn’t until I saw Purvis’s trust-based relational intervention in real life that the light bulb came on.
I’m not going to lie. We were in denial about some of the behaviors and attachment issues going on in both of our kiddos. Times were tough and the stress level was becoming high. I was beginning to really worry about how to discipline in the way they needed me to. Our ways weren’t working. I felt like we didn’t have a handle on any of the issues that were growing in our home. I was starting to feel extremely stressed. I felt really sad to be in such a place of uncertainty. I needed real strategies for behavioral change that wouldn’t mess up attachment and healing. Little did I know that help was on its way.
So back to the conference. Um, yes. It had to be divine intervention that this conference just happened to be coming to [my town] precisely at the time I needed it most. Truly. It came just at the right time. Then Adrienne asked me if I would like to attend with her, and the rest is history.
I can’t really give you a synopsis of what I learned. You need to see it and hear it for yourself (they do have dvds available). But here are the notes I took that really stood out to me in regards to correcting difficult behavior while building attachment and nurturing healing:
There is no fix, there is only healing.
Connect, connect, connect in order to correct.
From birth to age 2, infants get 1000’s of “yes’s” from us before we ever have to give them a “no.” Older adopted kids don’t get those thousands of yes’s in which to build trust with us before we utter our first no. We have to find a way to give them as many “yes’s” as possible in order to build trust.
Deal with the behavior, but remember the goal is a relationship….and ultimately profound healing.
We must give our children the voice they lost during their institutionalization and trauma, when their voice went unheard and their needs went unmet. A baby cries to be fed or changed. In an orphanage, a baby doesn’t cry because they know no one will come. You could hear a pin drop in River’s orphanage room–a room filled with with over 20 infants. They had all lost their voice.
The world should stop when your child speaks to you, in order to show them they have a voice.
A child should understand that safe people listen to them….that they have a voice with a safe person.
The early trauma and neglect damaged our kiddos brains. Neurochemistry analysis confirms this. The sensory processing centers, the nervous system, neurotransmitters, insulin receptors, etc are all disregulated. Even after years in a loving family, they are disregulated. We have to literally help change brain chemistry in order to heal our children…and in order to bring about attachment and behavioral change.
Behaviors are only going to get worse until the brain is changed. We are rebuilding the damaged foundation that was laid during an early life of trauma.
In order to give them the voice they lost, there must be shared power. Shared power doesn’t diminish parental authority. The one who has the power to share is the one who has the authority.
Shared power, not domination.
You are the coach, not the warden.
Make it about the resolution. That is the end result….a successful resolution that leaves you even more connected. The conflict should end with the child succeeding. At no time during the conflict should the child feel anything but precious to you.
The IDEAL approach helps you do this.
When you are a partner in healing, you can teach your child anything.
This is not a quick fix, but a lifetime investment.
This style of parenting will look odd and plain wrong to parents whose children don’t come from hard places.
In all of her years helping deeply traumatized children all over the world from all kinds of difficult backgrounds with all different levels of cognitive functioning, Purvis has never encountered a child who was not capable of profound healing and profound behavioral change.
We watched many video clips of this intervention being used in real life with very troubled children and adolecsents. It was shocking to see it in real life….to see how powerful this intervention is. Absolutely amazing.
In the short time we have implemented these radical changes in our own home, I have seen monumental results. We are not perfect. This is not a quick fix. Meltdowns still dominate our days, but now everything is different. Now we are empowered and we know that the profound healing our kids need is right within our grasps. And that is precisely the inspiration we needed.
I purchased one of the training dvd’s for Jim to watch along with me, so that we can be on the same page and present a united front. If you find yourself wondering how to reach your children from hard places….how to bring about healing and behavioral change, please borrow this dvd from me. I will happily mail it to you to view. It will change your life and the lives of your children.