My Learning Curve: Efficient Correction

We made a quick trip to Seattle to meet with the therapist who is going to be working with our sweet Dimples. She is a wonderful, gifted woman who gave us hours of her time to get us started. She had many great insights about children affected by trauma. She also gave us a number of practical tools to begin implementing at home. We will travel back to see her with Dimples next week.

I am in the midst of a messy project, but this post has been rattling around for a week and I need to get it out of my head and onto my blog.

So here I am thinking more about the teachings of Dr. Karyn Purvis. In my earlier post on correction, I wrote about the IDEAL response: Immediate, Direct, Efficient, Action-based, and Level. In her lecture she went into detail about how to respond Efficiently when correcting a child. I’ll try to summarize some of what she said here.

First, we need to match our response to the behavior of the child. Dr. Purvis talks about using a tone of “playful engagement”. Imagine it as being lighthearted, and responding to the child with a twinkle in your eye. For example, if my child says, “Give me a cookie!” Dr. Purvis would tell me to playfully respond, “Are you asking me or telling me?” Most kids will probably sheepishly reply that they are asking, which I would follow with, “Let me hear you ask that again using respect.”

Second, if the child still isn’t responding, I then give them two choices. Dr. Purvis says to hold up two fingers and clearly offer two options, for example I might say, “You may not have a cookie right now because lunch is in ten minutes, but you may choose an apple, or wait until lunch time to eat.”

At this point, I hope the child will choose what I have offered, but if things are ramping up and beginning to move out of control, I will direct the child to our “Think it Over” spot, which in my house is the “ugly chair” in the family room next to the kitchen. Dr. Purvis says to remain no more than 6 – 8 ft. away. I tell my child that when they are calm and ready to talk to me, they can say “Ready” and I will be right there to talk with them.

When that happens, we then have a “do over” and I have the child come back to the kitchen, or where ever we were when the initial request was made and I have them do it again. I answer, giving them the two choices and they have an opportunity to answer respectfully. The child may choose not to have a snack, and that is fine too, but the process is done in a calm manner with respect.

Dr. Purvis also says:

Use the fewest words necessary to make your point clear to the child – no more than

This is not easy – I assure you that Russ and I regularly have to remind each other of this. We whisper the cue “few words” to each other as a reminder.

I am definitely not doing justice to Dr. Purvis’ teaching, and feel a bit sheepish sharing what I am learning. Keep in mind that I am writing from the notes that I took while watching her lectures. Overall, I hope I am giving you a taste of her wisdom and that you will take advantage of the online lectures and her book, The Connected Child, as you are able.

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More soon!


This post may contain Amazon Affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.


  1. Marissa
    June 11, 2009

    Oh man, I've got a lot of learning to do. 🙂 I'm the queen of lectures. I totally get they are for my sake and my sake alone and thankfully my kids have learned to be patient with me, but I need to get better at the "few words" thing. I'm going to start working on that right now.

    And I love the "Think it over spot." I'll be implementing that as well.

    Great stuff!!!

  2. Cat and Mark
    June 12, 2009

    At your suggestion, I started reading the Connected Child and I am loving it. I have some serious issues with "few words", as well as other techniques I *know* I should be implimenting -parenting sure is hard! But we are working on it.

    Thanks for sharing your struggles!


  3. Kristen, The Pajama Mama
    June 12, 2009

    great advice! i overtalk things too-good reminder-few words! hope you see tangible improvement soon!

  4. rebekah
    June 12, 2009

    Great post – these are so helpful. I hope you don't mind that I linked your blog in a basic attachment post I did yesterday.

    I don't think you know me, we have a little guy from Ethiopia and are working on adopting a yet to be known toddler/ preschool girl.

  5. Thankfulmom
    June 12, 2009

    I hear you all! The "few words" thing is tough. We probably begin to sound like the teachers on Charlie Brown. I have to remember that when my child is already overstimulated and stressed, she is going to hear very little of what I say.

    Rebekah, please feel free to link to my posts. We can all learn from one another.


  6. Matthew and Amanda
    June 12, 2009


    Your blog is so incredibly valuable to me. Thank you very much for taking the time to write about your parenting experiences, thoughts and ideas.


  7. JaneeNoel
    June 12, 2009

    Thanks so much. All of these recent posts have been very helpful to me.


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