Sharpening your parenting skills: Connecting

by Leah Gorham, MAMFC, LPC

Welcome to the second part of the Child Abuse Awareness Trilogy Blog.  As I mentioned last week, Dr. Karyn Purvis developed the idea of empowering, connecting, and correcting children to increase attachment and cohesion in families. She called it TBRI® (Trust-Based Relational Intervention®).

Having a newborn baby can be one of the most stressful times in a parent’s life – especially for new parents!  The late nights, early morning feedings, and excessive crying could easily make anyone feel overwhelmed.  Dr. Purvis believed that you can never hold an infant too much during the first year of their life. This is a prime development attachment stage during which a child is learning to determine who they can connect with and have a trusted relationship with.  We are all longing for the same things – we need to know that we matter, we can connect with others, and we can feel safe. In order for our physical needs to be met, we need to connect with others.  Connecting is about building a relationship or a bond with someone.  It’s similar to when you connect to Wi-Fi, which allows you to connect to the World Wide Web.  When you’re connected to your child, you get all the benefits of things they experience.

So how do we connect with our children?  Connecting with a 2 year-old will look different than connecting with a 12 year-old, but there will be some overlap.  One way to connect is through positive, healthy touch.  A high-five, hug, pat on the back, foot massage, fist bump – whatever makes you and your child feel safe.

Lack of appropriate eye contact is a common challenge in our society. Often our heads are down while we’re scrolling through Facebook, Instagram, or other social media on our phones instead of actually maintaining good eye contact with others.  Instead, we need to set our phones aside and look our children in the eyes.  This will reinforce the message that they are special and what they have to say is valuable and important. I know I’m guilty of not putting my phone down, yet it is something I’m striving to be better at by looking the person I am with in the eyes.

Along with the eye contact, proximity to the child is important. It’s hard to hear what they are saying when we’re not even in the same room.  How many times have we been upset by a child yelling at us from across the house?  Rather, move closer to them by sitting near or next to them.  It becomes easier to be open and honest with someone who is looking at my eyes, sitting near me, and holding my hand.

A great way to build the connection with your child is doing what they like to do or striving to do things together.  I recently read an article about how many parents say “no” when they could say “yes.”  Here’s an example for you.  After a long day of work, a parent comes home and settles down on the couch. As the parent is scrolling on their phone, a kid asks if he can ride his skateboard outside.  The parent immediately reacts with a “no” because it would require them to get off the couch.  Instead, the parent could say “yes” and put the phone down in order to go outside with the child.  While riding a skateboard is not for everyone (definitely not with my balance), being outside with the child and encouraging him is a great way for the parent to connect with their child.  I’m a big advocate of family board games or card games that allow for conversations, practice in the art of winning/losing well, and non-tech time.

Often times, we don’t take care of ourselves. As the flight attendant always tells us on airplanes, we have to put on the oxygen mask first.  THEN we can help others with their oxygen masks. The rationale is that we aren’t very helpful to others when we’re lacking oxygen ourselves. The same is true for nurturing.  We must nurture ourselves through savoring a cup of coffee, our daily workout at the gym, connecting with our significant other/spouse/close friend, or through meditating.  We must practice self-care.  I have found taking walks through nature to be stress relieving as I’m able to breath in the fresh air.  It can look different for each of us, yet the basis is that we must strive to nurture ourselves so we can nurture others.   Next week, I’ll finish this blog series with a final blog on correcting.

Leah Gorham, MAMFC, LPC, is the Team Lead at the STARRY-Waco Counseling office that offers free counseling for children and families. She has been a Kid’s Hope Mentor for the past five years and is currently part of Leadership Waco.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email for more information.


Earth Month 2017 Part 1: Spring Cleaning and Greening

(April is Earth Month!  To help us get in the spirit of sustainability, Anna Dunbar, Recycling and Public Outreach Administrator for the City of Waco Solid Waste Services, shares some tips, expertise and hopes for our community in a series of four blog posts.  This is the first.  Thanks for writing, Anna! – ABT)

By Anna Dunbar

It’s that time of year again – time to clean out old items from those closets, cupboards, out-buildings and garages!

In your spring cleaning, you’ll likely come across old electronics – like TVs, computers, printers, scanners, fax machines, and cell phones – or liquid “stuff” like paints, cleaners, oils, batteries, and pesticides that you want to get rid of. You may even find a scrap tire or two! With a little work and some planning your shelves and work spaces will be clear.  And I know everyone likes a clean garage!

First, electronics. Electronics are made from valuable resources and highly engineered materials, which could pose risks if disposed of improperly. So, what to do if you do not put them in the trash? You can call the Waco Best Buy, which accepts many electronics, even those they do not sell. There is a recycling fee for items with glass (monitors and TVs) but other items can be recycled free of charge.  Some newer items may even have a rebate!  Another option for computers is Goodwill.  The Waco Goodwill will take computers. If the computer still works, other nonprofits may accept it.  Finally, many of the Waco metal recyclers will accept electronics EXCEPT televisions and monitors (yep, the glass issue again).

Second, the goopy stuff in cans, bottles and jars.  Some stuff may not even have a readable label and may be from grandpa’s garage. Be careful with that stuff! Some household products are considered household hazardous wastes.  These are items like paint and paint products, automotive fluids (oil and antifreeze as well as gasoline) and pesticides and herbicides.   Here are some tips:

  • Paint – Use it up, dry it up or pass it on! Totally dry paint can be put in the trash. If it is not totally dry, you can use kitty litter or mulch to speed up the drying.
  • Used motor oil and antifreeze – many auto supply retailers accept these.  If you are a Waco resident, you can take motor oil and antifreeze to the Cobbs Recycling Center.
  • Please don’t pour liquid products such as those down the sink drain or down the storm drain!
  • Please resist the temptation to put these items on the curb with the rest of your trash!
  • Anyone can take scrap tires off the rim to the Waco Landfill. There is a fee of $3 or $5 depending upon the size of tire.

If you are a resident of Waco, Hewitt, Lacy Lakeview, Lorena or Woodway, you can save paints, auto fluids and other hazardous stuff for Household Hazardous Waste Day on May 6 (more details later). You can even take scrap tires and batteries.   I put all of my unwanted stuff in a box (or 2 or 3 boxes) so it is ready to go come May.  Last year I had a CPU, a broken printer, some expired drugs, a few of cans of paint, a couple of “curly” bulb and a fluorescent tube and a couple of boat trailer tires all loaded into my Prius.  I safely got rid of it all in one trip.

To find out more call Waco Solid Waste Services at (254)299-2612 or go to or you can contact me at

This week’s Act Locally Waco blog post is by Anna Dunbar. Anna is the Operations  Administrator for the City of Waco Public Works. She is responsible for informing Waco residents and businesses about recycling and waste reduction opportunities as well as solid waste services in Waco. Her husband is a Baylor professor and her daughter is a graduate student at Baylor University. She is president of the board of Keep Waco Beautiful and is a member of The Central Texas Audubon Society and Northwest Waco Rotary. If you would be interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco blog, please email .