When You Need to Pull Your Child Closer: Conversation with Danielle [Podcast 019]

Sometimes something triggers a fear or anxiety response in our children so strongly that it impacts how they interact with their environment. They can respond with uncontrollable anger, paralyzing fear, or an urge to run.

We might not always know what triggers that response, but we can know how to respond to the behavior. When we understand how trauma affects the brain and how some things cause a shift from the complex, thinking area of the brain into the protective part, we hopefully will handle the situation in a manner that helps our child feel safe again. And when they feel safe again, they can make rational, healthy decisions in response to their environment.

In this episode, Danielle sits down with me to discuss a recent series of events that has triggered a fear response from our son. We talk about what happened, how we handled it, and why we handled it the way we did. At the time of the recording, much of this is still occurring.

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Taking A Closer Look at Empowerment—A TBRI Principle

Do you get the idea that it’s good to empower your child but struggle with exactly how to do it? How do you find that balance of empowering yet remaining in control?

Trust-Based Relational Intervention, or TBRI, is becoming the standard for connected parenting. Schools, Child Protective Services, counselors, parents, and others recognize this and are applying these principles in their work and families.

I posted a blog a couple of years ago, Three Principles of Trust-Based Relational Intervention, that still gets a lot of traffic. Basically, the three principles are Empowerment, Connection, and Correction. If you want a quick overview of TBRI, please check out that blog post HERE.

Over the next few weeks I will post a blog digging a little deeper into each of the three TBRI principles sharing not only what I have learned about each, but some of my personal experience as I attempt to apply the principles to our family.

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Understanding Your Child’s Sensory Processing Needs [Podcast Episode 008]

Interview with Marti Smith

I didn’t know that sensory processing disorder existed until I began fostering my son. I noticed that some of his behavior was strange, such as, licking all kinds of surfaces like table tops, blankets, even the top of my bald head.


I also wondered why in some environments he spun completely out of control, jumping around, yelling, bouncing off walls and people. Then I learned about sensory input. I also learned that we all struggle with sensory input at some level. Now I understood myself better too.

In today’s podcast episode, I discuss with occupational therapist, Marti Smith, about how we as parents can not only recognize our child’s sensory processing needs, but also help them navigate them well.

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Helping Our Son Handle Transitions [Podcast Episode 006]

Have you ever tried to get out the door in a hurry then your child has a total meltdown because they don’t want to stop what they are doing? The harder you try to help them transition the worse it gets, so not only are you late, but the family is in total chaos.


We can predict some transitions and help our kids navigate them. Yet others catch us completely off guard. The better we, as parents, think ahead, the better we can help our children. Even if we are caught off guard, we can respond rather than react.

In today’s podcast episode, Danielle and I share some stories about how we have helped our son handle transitions. Here are a few things we share:

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Am I Contributing to My Child’s Trauma?

I know that is a difficult question. What parent, especially an adoptive or foster parent, wants criticism. We all, or most of us, parent the best we can. We are flawed people called to invest in children to help them grow up to be successful adults.

And if we are blessed to have foster or adoptive children, we are also called to help them heal from the past trauma experienced in their lives.

Yet far too often I parent as if I forgot the trauma my son has experienced.

It’s a well-known and documented fact now that all foster and adopted children endure trauma, even children adopted the day of their birth. Sadly, too many of these children suffer years of trauma.

Studies now show that many foster children suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, commonly associated with combat experienced soldiers.

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Who Just Took Over My Child’s Body?

The other day my son and I spent the day together, just the two of us. We began the day going to McDonald’s for breakfast, then to the grocery store to get a few items for the weekend. Then we headed back home to do some work outside which included me cutting down a dead tree.

We enjoyed hanging out together, father and son.

Then it happened. Right before my eyes. One moment he is acting like a normal five-year-old boy enjoying running around doing what little boys like to do. The next moment he is whining and yelling at me making no logical sense at all. I stood there watching my son seriously wondering who had just taken over his body. I was thinking, “Really? Is this the way you’re going to act? You’re about to mess up a really good day!”

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One Thing an Adopted Child Really Needs

November is National Adoption Month. All across the country families will welcome children into their forever families. Excitement. Nerves. Celebrations.

All good things!

For some children, like our son, they will have already been living with their forever family maybe as a foster kid. So it won’t be too much of an adjustment.

For others, their adjustment is abrupt. One day they are in a foster home, a group home, or an orphanage. The next day they have a forever family of their own! Quite a change.

After the excitement and parties are over, life goes on. House rules. Homework. Hanging with friends.

And dealing with trauma. Adoption doesn’t heal the trauma.

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Why Your Child Pushes You Away

The Trauma Dance

Some days, when our son is having a good day, I easily forget that he experienced trauma as a baby. Then…he bangs his head, skins his knee or maybe breaks a toy. And I see what we now call the trauma dance.

It begins with him running toward me or Danielle. We wait with sad faces and anticipation of comforting him. But he doesn’t make it to our outstretched arms. He suddenly veers off and runs in crazy circles crying as if he is looking for the one thing that will comfort him yet not really sure what he is looking for or where to find it.

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How Telling Your Story Helps You Heal

3 Ways to Tell Your Story

As I watch and read the stories of victims of the recent flooding in Central Texas, I know many are telling their stories over and over. Many volunteers trained in Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) are purposefully spending their time listening and asking questions to help victims tell their stories. 

Survivors of a sudden event like a natural disaster, the unexpected death of a loved one, finding out they have a terminal illness, etc. often struggle to “make sense” of their new reality. Even though these survivors might need long-term care, a part of the immediate (and long-term) care involves them telling their story in a safe environment.

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Trauma Informed Care for Challenging Children in a Ministry or Classroom Setting

I narrate this overview of how to implement trauma informed care in a ministry or classroom setting that my friend Julie Kouri put together. Even though it only touches on the subject, I trust it will motivate you to learn more about how trauma effects the children in your classroom. And, I hope you will recognize some strategies that will help you as you work with not only children with a trauma background, but all of your children.

Here is the outline of what you will find in the presentation:

Trauma Informed Care


  1. To understand how trauma and risk factors affect the brain
  2. To learn that the empowering, connecting, and correcting model of trauma-informed care is useful for all children in a ministry/classroom setting
  3. To learn practical interventions along with empowering, connecting, and correcting strategies

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