What is Empowered To Connect?

February 23, 2016 | Posted In Featured | Share

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We sent some questions about Empowered To Connect over to Amanda R. Hiles Howard, PhD, an assistant professor of psychology at Samford University. Her answers show why everyone can benefit from the teaching of this conference! 

Why is the Empowered To Connect conference for everyone, not just professionals?

Matilda and her father are out shopping. They have already been to a few shops, but her father decides to make one more unexpected stop to the hardware store. Things are going smoothly until they are in the paint section. Her father starts to become irritated because he cannot find the color he needs. After a few minutes, Matilda begins whining, saying that she wants to go home. Her father distractedly tells her to calm down while he finishes shopping. Matilda crosses her arms and rolls her eyes, irritating her father further. Soon, she begins petulantly kicking the inside of the cart. Using a very harsh tone her father tells her to stop. Matilda begins yelling and attracting the attention of other costumers. Embarrassed and angry her father picks her up and carries her out of the store, vowing to never take her shopping again.

Situations like the one above can be frustrating and confusing even when caring for a typically developing child. However, when working with children and youth with a history of maltreatment, abuse, neglect, multiple home placements, and/or violence, caregiving in difficult situations can be even more challenging. This practical approach to caregiving focuses on helping caregivers recognize the needs of children and empowering those caregivers to do what is required to meet their children’s needs in a safe, nurturing, and developmentally appropriate way. Although TBRI is specifically designed for children and adolescents from ‘hard places’, you will see that in many ways these principles apply to all children. Although behavioral change is a goal, TBRI guides families on addressing the underlying trauma experienced by children with histories of maltreatment and deprivation. TBRI is effective because it is founded in research and theory and is based upon how optimal development should have occurred. By helping caregivers understand what should have happened in early development, TBRI principles guide children and youth back to their natural developmental trajectory.

What can people expect to experience if they attend the conference or participate in the simulcast?

This conference will present caregivers with practical, research-based strategies for interacting with their children. This conference focuses not just on why our children behave the way they do, but more importantly how we as caregivers can better recognize and respond to our children’s needs.

Why are we “Created to Connect?”

The human brain is created and primed for relationship and community.

What does self-healing have to do with child-healing?

Self-healing strategies aid the caregiver in being aware of what they bring to interactions with their children, such as being conscious of their own relationship histories and current emotional and physiological state. A caregiver’s understanding of her own history, including both how it influences her behavior and how she interprets the behavior of others, is part of being mindfully aware. When she is aware of what behaviors ‘push her buttons’ and why, it is easier to begin understanding how to be proactive in managing them. If you grew up with a pattern of sub-optimal care from your parents, this likely influenced the way you interact with others. Perhaps you are not a ‘touchy/feely’ person and dislike discussing emotions. Maybe you harbor some anger towards your own parents. You might be the kind of person that likes ‘drama’ and being wrapped up in conflicts or the conflicts of others. Regardless, the way we interact with others can usually be traced back to the way our parents interacted with us. Changing for our own children requires being aware of how we interact with others and how we could do better. Meeting children where they are emotionally, physically, and socially can be difficult, but one of the first steps is understanding the influence of our own pasts.

Why do parents need to hear this teaching?

Children from ‘hard places’ may present unique challenges for caregivers, TBRI is a relationship-based model that encourages nurturing, insightful caregiving, and can be implemented in virtually any environment with children and youth of any age or risk level. Holistic in nature and developmentally respectful of the impact of trauma, TBRI leads to positive outcomes in the lives of children and youth who have a history of trauma.

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