Over the past few years, I have heard the quote, “empowered women empower women.” Without much thought, this quote made sense to me. I thought, “oh, yes, women should mutually encourage one another.” I realize now that it might not be this simple. How can we feel empowered so that we can empower others?
The first part of this question is, how can women feel empowered? In a predominantly patriarchal society, it can be challenging to feel empowered as a woman. Is there a way that we can tell others around us, “hey, I don’t feel very empowered today- can you help?” I have sometimes even found myself asking, “is it possible even to empower myself?”
For us as women to be empowered, we must first encourage and value other women around us. This can feel cyclical. It seems like it is then essential to define empowerment. Empowerment is defined as “the process of gaining freedom and power to do what you want or to control what happens to you” (“Empowerment,” n.d.). To me, this still sounds relatively vague. How do we go about empowering one another? Because of the influence of empowerment, it makes me wonder about the relationship between mothers and daughters and how empowerment might play a role.
Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) is an “attachment-based, trauma-informed intervention that is designed to meet the complex needs of vulnerable children” (Purvis, 2013). This model is able to be a tool that mothers can use to empower their children through different principles. TBRI uses Empowering Principles to address physical needs, Connecting Principles for attachment needs, and Correcting Principles to disarm fear-based behaviors. While this intervention is specifically designed for children that have experienced trauma or come from hard places, it is relevant to all children. I believe that by having a strong connection with our children, particularly our girls, we can empower them to be strong women.
The three principles of TBRI (connecting, empowering, and correcting) follow a purposeful order. To best correct children, there is a need for empowerment, and before we can empower, there is a need for connection.
As I have researched TBRI, I have thought back to the ways in which my mom empowered me. This connects to TBRI principles, as well. For example, giving children choices and compromises is extremely important in the TBRI model, specifically in the connecting phase. Thinking about my life now, I feel empowered when I am given autonomy in my decisions.
TBRI principles work beautifully together to allow children to discover self-regulation by providing them with choices and giving them opportunities to make compromises. Before we continue to talk about these three principles, it is essential to describe what makes up the three principles.
- Connection- The base of the connection principle is According to Dr. Purvis, “Infants need to feel safe and know that their caregiver will meet their needs. Infants then use attachments with their caregivers as models for future relationships” (Purvis, 2013). Attachment is a vital step in noting the way that children will navigate future relationships. Healthy connection is key to self-regulation. This also allows children to feel confident and have their voices heard, which in turn leads to healthy attachment and feelings of empowerment. Another facet of the connection principles is called “being earned secure.” Dr. Purvis describes it this way: “be honest about the past. Let the past go with compassion” (Purvis, 2013). When we take care of ourselves and our past hurts, we are free to empower one another.
- Empowering- The empowering principles “are designed to facilitate change in children by teaching them self-regulation skills.” Within the empowering principles, there are two sets of strategies to help foster skills within children: physiological (physical/ internal) and ecological (external/ environmental). Another important element is felt-safety, or the idea that because children are safe does not mean that they feel safe. This is vital because if children do not feel safe, they will have a difficult time connecting to others, even into adulthood. How to we help promote felt safety among children? We help with basic needs, such as; hydration and glucose. We promote children’s ecological well-being by assisting them in navigating life and daily transitions.
- Correcting- Without the connecting principle, the correcting principles are not All healthy relationships must have a positive connection first. Through correcting, we are able to help children on how they might improve and change their behavior. The IDEAL response (immediate, direct, efficient, action-based, leveled at the behavior, not the child) is what is used in TBRI to carefully respond to children when they are expressing a behavior that we which to change. The concept behind the IDEAL response the response is leveled at the behavior, not the child. A child’s self-esteem is fragile and correction can occur without damaging a child’s self-worth.
How then does the utilization of TBRI correlate with the empowerment of women and girls? This model boosts self-esteem in children there is a way that, primarily through connection, allowing them, in turn, the freedom and ability to empower others.
As TBRI informs us, attachment plays a vital part in the way children develop and function as adults. Healthy attachment leads to positive self-esteem and feelings of empowerment. Empowered girls can then grow up to be empowered women. But, it all begins with nurturing our children and establishing strong connections, which allows us to raise strong girls who go on to be strong, empowered women.
EMPOWERMENT: definition in the Cambridge English Dictionary. (n.d.). Retrieved September 30, 2019, from https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/empowerment.
Purvis, K., Cross D.R., Hurst, J. R. (2013). Trust-Based Relational Intervention Caregiver Training: TBRI Connecting Principles (Participant Workbook). Fort Worth, TX: Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development.
Purvis, K., Cross D.R., Hurst, J. R. (2013). Trust-Based Relational Intervention Caregiver Training: TBRI Empowering Principles (Participant Workbook). Fort Worth, TX: Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development.
Purvis, K., Cross D.R., Hurst, J. R. (2013). Trust-Based Relational Intervention Caregiver Training: TBRI Correcting Principles (Participant Workbook). Fort Worth, TX: Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development.
Image credit to: https://society6.com/product/empowered-women-empower-women_print