The IDEAL Response for Changing Behavior

Wouldn’t it be nice if children came with instruction manuals? Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI)® and Dr. Karyn Purvis have discussed the I.D.E.A.L. response to help parents with teaching children about learning how to interact appropriately with others. The IDEAL response stands for:

within 3 seconds.

Be near the child and make eye-contact, model how you want them to respond.

Responding to “low” level behaviors with low-level responses, catching it low and not reacting to low-level behaviors with a deeper response that is more appropriate for higher-level behaviors.

Creating body memories for the right behaviors, offer choices, ask for redoes, correcting when needed.

The correcting is directed towards the behavior, not the child.

Children need relationships to heal disruptions from relationships. By guiding your children to create new motor memories for the “right” behaviors that would replace the pathways for the negative behaviors will allow you and your child to have fewer disruptions in the relationship. Children need consistent parenting to know how to respond to different situations. The IDEAL response seems overwhelming for caregivers in the beginning, however, with practice it will become easier to implement. Children want to be successful, with the IDEAL response we are able to correct negative behavior while still allowing the child to be successful with the interaction. The most important part of the IDEAL response and parenting in general, is that our children feel connected to us and the relationship grows.

Written by Stacey Merrill, LCPC, Family Counseling Center Clinician at Maine Children’s Home.


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