Response to the Unexpected: Behaviors


In Birmingham, Ala., spring is in the air (and so is coronavirus disease 2019). Our daffodils are blooming, the azaleas are budding. It is the time of year we should all be out enjoying baseball and picnics and the beginning of the longer days. Instead we are all in this most unusual and unprecedented situation. We are learning new terms like “social distancing,” “flattening the curve,” “COVID-19” and “quarantine.” Our children from hard places have difficulty with transitions on the best of days but this very big change — no school, no friends, no extra activities with little warning and preparation — can cause a child to reach their tipping point pretty quickly. Therefore, we should expect to see some heightened anxiety in our children and possibly regression in behaviors because of fear.

Many of our children will likely return to some of the survival strategies they used when they first came into our homes. It can be discouraging when the behaviors that you thought had been extinguished re-emerge. But take heart, if you continue to practice the Trust-Based Relational Intervention® (TBRI) principles of providing “felt safety,” you will be moving in the right direction and be back on track soon.  This is the time when we all need an extra measure of grace and forgiveness. I am thankful that God’s mercies are new every morning, as we see in Lamentations 3:22-23. So start each day new and fresh, leaving the previous day’s missteps behind.

Listed below are some behaviors that pop up in your children. You’ll also see article links that will help you and your child navigate their fear and anxiety.



Food anxiety:



Manipulation and control:





Please know that members of our Lifeline Children’s Services team are available and ready to answer any questions you might have during this time uncertainty. We also want to remind you that our Parent Coaching services are available by phone or online during the COVID-19 response. Parent Coaching is led by one of our experienced TBRI trained staff members and is intended to help you understand your child’s needs and make a tailored plan for increasing connection in your parenting. For more information or to schedule a complimentary consultation, visit Or see for information about our counselors.