Empowered To Connect Conference Snipets

My husband and I were blessed to take part in the Empowered to Connect Conference in Irving, Texas with Dr. Karyn Purvis. Empowered to Connect is a conference created for foster and adoptive parents. Dr. Purvis’ trainings are revolutionary and are changing the way many parents interact with their children- biological, foster or adopted.

I thought I’d share some of my notes from the weekend in the hopes that they will encourage and inspire some other parents out there. Please note that these practices aren’t just for kids with rough backgrounds; they’re useful in dealing with any children at all.


 In the beginning… the first Connected Child Camp…

  • When everyone saw the dramatic improvements in the kids, they began to ask how it happened:
  • An environment that can be created…
  • You put the kids in an environment that destabilizes their survival strategies.
  • The language center of the brain- little fingers into the brain that have to do with feeling safe connected and attached. This section activates words.
  • If you do not feel safe, you use violence, manipulation, etc to get your way. (Fight, flight or freeze)

The design that God built into biology is for intense mentoring- parent to child

  • Learning to regulate:
    • External regulation: First step toward self-regulation. This can take 2-4 years.
    • Co-regulation: parent and child working together regularly.
    • Self-regulation: child learns to regulate him/herself on a regular basis.
  • The child’s brain needs the synaptic connections to grow and make them able to sustain change.
  • MOLDING- melting into someone’s arms- a sign of ultimate trust
  • Investment parenting- it will cost you everything you are
  • It will take one month of intensive work for each one year of age.
  • 400 repetitions of an act to make a new synaptic connection in the brain.


  • Complex developmental disorder (will soon be replacing RAD)
  • Attachment behaviors: trust, self-worth, efficacy
  • We give back the need expressed. (as with a newborn baby)
  • We give back voice.
  • Celebration of “yes.” (find creative ways to say yes in simple ways)
  • Yes builds trust. (making up for all the yes’s they missed as a baby.)
  • look at the stress system- you are changing the biology of the child when you hear the need, give them a voice and say yes.
  • Address behavior, but find the need.
    • First level- human behavior (trust)
    • Second level: regulation
    • Third- (brain level) excitatory nerve transmitters
  • Trajectory of mental illness:
    • 2-3 years behavioral dysregulation
    • 4-6 ADD/ADHD and drugs
    • 8-10 depression, anxiety
    • 12+ bipolar disorder

Trust Based Relational Intervention OR Connected Parenting:

  • Connect
  • Empower
  • Correct

[One for the body]

[One for soul]

[One for spirit]


  • Like The Shema of Israel.
  • Grapes- it is the connection to the vine that makes the grapes sweet over time.


  • Hydration
  • Food every 2 hours
  • Protein snack at bedtime
  • Sensory activity every two hours
  • Caution using antibiotics
  • Nutrient-rich foods & protocols (TAAT)
  • LOTS of healthy touching, snuggling, hugging etc.


  • Attunement
  • Safe touch
  • Undivided attention
  • Value eye contact
  • Smiling eyes
  • Playful engagement
  • Warmth of voice
  • Nurturing play
  • LOTS of healthy, touching, snuggling etc


  • Sensory diets
  • Working with OT
  • Wilbarger protocol
  • Massage
  • Play dough
  • Riding bikes, to the park, trampoline
  • Bean pool, rice buckets

IDEAL response:

  • Immediate- within 30 seconds (non-threatening)
  • Direct- proximity and eye contact
  • Efficient- measured response
  • Action-based- opportunity for a re-do
  • Leveled at the behavior, NOT the child

Connected discipline vs Distancing discipline

  • Time in VS time out
  • Bring the child closer VS sending him away
  • Resolution VS consequences
  • Problem solving VS lectures and sermons
  • Advocacy stance VS adversary stance
  • Focus on the child’s preciousness VS focus on failures


  • DON’T ASK WHY. Ask what they need.
  • “Use your words. If it is in my power I will move heaven and earth to make it happen.”
  • Nothing we do for these kids is going to matter if we don’t feel where they come from.
  • Many times it isn’t the behavior that needs correction- its the thinking.
  • Talk when the behavior is NOT happening.
  • If we don’t connect nothing else matters.

Additional Information:


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