TBRI Mantra: See the Need

In this series we are exploring mantras and their role in caring for children from hard places. Dr. Cross’s TBRI mantra includes nuggets of wisdom that can be helpful for anyone who is using Trust-Based Relational Intervention. If you haven’t yet, go ahead and read the previous posts in this series (linked below) before reading this week’s installment.

Part I | Part II

by Emmelie Pickett

It’s important that we train ourselves to see the needs behind behaviors. Oftentimes our kids are trying to express a need with their behavior, but may not have the brain capacity use their words when they are upset or dysregulated. 

 “A lot of ‘seeing the need’ is understanding the impact of trauma on kids. Having compassion and understanding helps us to see the need. Seeing the need is changing your frame of reference so you realize that these aberrant behaviors are survival strategies rather than willful disobedience. If you look at your child’s behavior through the lens of his history, his actions make perfect sense. Understanding attachment and any deficits in early development also helps us to see the need behind behavior.” – Dr. David Cross

Ask yourself, “what does my child need?” when faced with challenging behaviors. By conducting a quick mental inventory of the current environment, previous events of the day, and any known triggers, we can often make a good guess at what our child needs when she is struggling. If you’re not sure, say, “Buddy, I want to help you. Can you use your words to tell me what you need?” in a calm, non-threatening tone. Your child’s answer may surprise you.

Use your words:

What behaviors have you observed in your child that could be expressing a need? 




One Response to “TBRI Mantra: See the Need”

  1. Margaret Williams

    Good read, I’ve experienced. Sneaking food. When hes allow to have whenever he is hungry.

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