A different approach to discipline

Darien Jones with the Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development, a program through Texas Christian University, talks to a group of about 70 people about Trust-Based Relational Intervention at Restoration Rome on Wednesday.

“Every child can benefit from this,” Kirsten Thornante, Rome City School social worker said. “It’s about building relationships.”

Thornante was at a Trust-Based Relational Intervention session Wednesday evening at Restoration Rome, along with two Rome City Schools principals and staff, to listen to learn the benefits of the TRBI system. The city schools are trying to implement the training across all schools as a way to handle behavior issues, she said.

The RCS administration was among a group of about 70 individuals — all from various departments and agencies which interact with kids — who were listening to Darien Jones with Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development, a program through Texas Christian University. Jones discussed how to approach children who are acting out in various situations.

Mary Margaret Mauer of Restoration Rome said Rome is one of the few communities who work with TCU and the TRBI training. Her husband, Jeff Mauer, added Rome will be one of the five international sites for TRBI training next year.

“To be able to have this here and train a large number of folks will be beneficial not only to Rome but to the state of Georgia,” Jeff Mauer said. “After they leave the training they can spread it throughout the state.”

An example of the TRBI program can be found in the after-school care rooms housed at Restoration Rome and run by the YMCA. Mary Margaret Mauer pointed to a sign at the entrance of one of the rooms which gave kids an option of how they will greet staff each day. On the inside of the classroom there were schedules and other signs staff use to work with the kids on behavior or acting out, she said.

“Here is a schedule printed out so the students can see it and know they have structure for their afternoon,” she said.

Mauer also showed a chart where students can monitor how they are feeling and work on expressing their different emotions if something doesn’t feel right. This program works on mutual respect versus having a power struggle, Thornante said. Blowing up or spanking a child is not an effective way to discipline students, she added.

Her comments were reinforced by Jones, who said during his talk when working with kids with behavior issues, or just kids in general, they need to feel safe with an adult. Jones said behavior issues can result in a child not feeling safe in a certain environment.

What this means, is while a child may feel physically safe at school, it doesn’t mean they feel safe emotionally. The city school system is working on implementing this type of intervention because it is good for teachers to feel this sense of connection with their students, she said.

While the system may be talking of having an afternoon elementary school for children with bad behavior issues, but that is a contingency plan, she said.

It will take a few years to get this kind of training implemented throughout the system, but she said the city schools are tying to make sure there is a solid TRBI plan in place first.

“It’s a lense-shift and a culture-shift,” she said. “They are all our kids, regardless of where they go to school or what system they are in.”

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