Approaching Challenging Behaviors

August 10, 2023 | Author: Kimberly Wood, M.A., Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern (edited by Michele Rogan)


The Trust Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) model was developed by Dr. Karyn Purvis specifically for children who have been through hard places but can be implemented to be useful for all children! When a child is showing difficult behaviors, there are a few steps to go through in the TBRI model that include connecting, empowering, and correcting to help your child navigate the emotions and reactions that can occur in challenging behavior.

The first step to focus on the need behind the behavior and implement is the strategy of awareness. Just like when you’re on a plane and the attendants have you put your own mask on before your child, you need to check in with yourself before you can be any help to your child. Be aware of your own state of mind and body to know how your reactions will affect your child in the moment of connection and correction.

After you’ve established your connection is secure with your child, utilize engagement strategies such as eye contact, healthy touch, voice tone, and behavior matching. Getting on a child’s level lets them know you respect them and that they can trust you. When the interaction with your child is engaging and they are locked in, your child will be more likely to receive your correction.

Next, you want to make sure your child is empowered to learn and grow at his or her fullest potential. This means making sure they’ve had a healthy snack within the last two hours and proper hydration. If your child is easily stimulated, monitor the amount of noise and movement they are surrounded by as well as the amount of sleep they’ve recently had.

Now, when all those steps have been checked off the list, it’s time to correct the behavior. Use words that will let your child know that their worthiness and value is not directly related to their behavior. The actions they took or words they said were a reaction to their environment, and it does not define them. Implement choices for your child based on the behavior as well as consider offering a re-do. Through this, they will feel involved and empowered to act on the correction. Just as our actions as children of God don’t define who we are as His children, the same is true for our children.

“Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  – Romans 8:39

Want to learn more about TBRI? Take a look at some of the training opportunities offered by our 4KIDS EPIC Team at: