The IDEAL Response©, drawn from the Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI)®, provides us with five basic principles to employ when faced with challenging behaviors from our foster or adopted children. (Okay, let’s be honest. This stuff works with most children in most situations. It’s gold.)
The acronym provides a basis for remembering these principles.
Immediate: Respond immediately — ideally within three seconds — which is when the most behavioral learning can be achieved.
Direct: Go to the child or bring them close to you. Get on their level and make eye contact.
Efficient: Use an appropriate amount of firmness, effort, and instruction when addressing the behavior. No lectures.
Action-based: Make clear what you expect. Help the child through a redo or model the correct words or actions. Praise them when they “try again” regardless of the effort.
Leveled at behavior: Respond to the behavior without labeling or shaming the child.
Now, a real-life example: I’m at a playdate with a friend and her daughter, sitting at our kitchen table talking to the other mom. I see my daughter angrily yank a toy from her friend’s hands.
I immediately stand up, and go directly to my daughter, crouching down at her eye level.
I efficiently communicate: “Oh, honey. I can see you’re mad. Taking toys from friends is not nice. We need to use nice words and gentle hands.”
To stress the action I expect, I model it first, “Let’s try saying, ‘May I please have that toy?’ Do you want to try again?” My daughter successfully completes a redo, and I praise her efforts.
She carries on without feeling shamed, because I made I leveled my response at her behavior, making clear that “taking toys” is not nice instead of saying, “You’re being a mean friend.”
These principles are to act as a guideline to be used whenever possible. For example, some situations may not allow us to respond immediately or get on our child’s eye level.
Do you want help applying these principles to your own parenting? Are the situations you’re experiencing more complex than the above example? I’d love to help you troubleshoot! See what I offer + contact me for a free consultation today.
Derived from Purvis, Karyn B. et al. “Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI): A Systemic Approach to Complex Developmental Trauma.” Child & Youth Services 34.4 (2013): 360–386. PMC. Web. 26 Apr. 2017.