Short Phrases, Big Lessons

life values on a poster

I was teaching my son about something the other day. As I felt as if I was really nailing this lesson on respect — talking with him eye-to-eye, at his eye level — he suddenly says “are we done yet?”

Yes, I addressed the lack of respect that came with that question, but I also took the question as a clue. I was talking his ear off during a time when just a short phrase of a reminder of our “life value terms” would have sufficed. He knows what our expectations are. We teach them and talk about them often, with the goal that, when behavior gets “off the track”, we only need a quick reminder about “showing respect” and a “re-do” for undesirable behavior.

A quick way to help teach behaviors we are expecting from children at home, in our classrooms, etc. is through short phrases we use in “crunch time” when behavior is getting off track. In the land of Trust-Based Relational Intervention®, we call these phrases “life value terms”.

Here is a list of the TBRI® Life Value Terms we teach:

  • With respect
  • Gentle and Kind
  • Cooperate and Compromise
  • Consequences
  • Askin’ or Tellin’
  • Listen and Follow Directions
  • No Hurts (from Group Theraplay®)
  • Stick Together (from Group Theraplay®)
  • Use Your Words
  • Accepting ‘No’
  • With Permission and Supervision

I encourage you to find 3-5 short phrases you find important to teach children in your unique caregiving role. Make a poster. Include the kids with making this fun poster with the phrases on it. Start the poster with one phrase, and then add more phrases to it after each one is taught. You can hang it in a common area of your home, classroom, daycare, etc. once all of the terms have been taught and practiced. This poster can serve as the reminder of the expectations and you can refer to it during times of behavior dysregulation.

Written by Lindsay Bragdon, LSW

TBRI ® Practitioner, Adoption Program Director and The Connected Community at MCH Coordinator