On why it's not enough to focus on the 'don't's and why we need to focus on the 'instead's and the 'do's.
"...But I wanted more, I needed the ride The inexplicable storm, the temporary high A body primed for drama, stimulation gone mad I’d blow up the quiet, and confirm I was bad You’d reach for your hair, and declare all quite lost I was clearly quite mad, for the undoing, the cost Of all that investment, of all that you’d done It didn’t add up, the unworkable sum But the numbers compute, it all makes sense When you think of my history, the emotions immense The experience traumatic, the learning acute My response to the calmness profoundly astute...."
In the previous post, we explored why some teens struggle with low self-esteem due to a lack of positive affirmation from others. One of our roles is to keep on building them up, and helping them to begin to believe in themselves. It is only once they begin to do this that they can begin to make changes in their lives where necessary and can begin to feel that they have the capability to mould their futures, rather than life just being ‘done’ to them. But how do we show them this? Sounds great in theory but what does it look like in practice? It’s finding the positives in their lives and in their characters and making a point of emphasising them whenever possible (but in a lighthearted off the cuff kind of way so that nobody has to reach for the bucket). Slowly drip-feed them. Young people who have little sense of self-worth often don’t know what to do with positive attention, it is so alien to them. So just like you can kill a starving child by making them eat too much to begin with, start slowly but surely so that they can gradually get used to their …
When you are working with a significantly overweight or obese teen, what do you see? A fat disgusting person with no-self control or someone struggling? Do you ask yourself the questions: What is really going on? Why are they over-eating? How much is physical, how much emotional? Is anyone to blame? What role has the child and their parents or carers played? These are some of the questions that my guest blogger, Pat Antos, seeks to address in this post, writing as his teenage self. Having himself been an overweight teen and a morbidly obese adult, he knows firsthand the issues that some of our teens are struggling with.
The last word, the last sight Before I go out of the door Away from your world And continue my tour My tour through my life All the comings and goings Of people and places The walking out, the throwings I can leave from the front Or out of the back Successful completion Or another setback But I shouldn’t go quietly It shouldn’t go unmarked The fact that I’m leaving It needs some remarks Highlights of progress Even when most wasn’t good What the next steps will be The fact that I could Could choose my response Could make this next step work That tomorrow has hope I can escape from the murk So whether I’m leaving On an up or a down You set the tone Can help me swim or drown
Whoever said a change is as good as a holiday is a prat. Well maybe not a prat, but someone who lives a totally different life than me. Maybe if your life is steady, your routines are predictable, and the unexpected is completely unexpected, then change is good. But change is all too familiar to me. It’s the bully that lurks in the bushes and jumps me, anytime, anywhere. And so I constantly live in fear. In fear of a new foster carer, a new group home, a new school or being banged up. In fear of a change of circumstance or mood that ends in black eyes and broken hearts. In fear of a new power structure on the estate where I don’t know where I fit and getting it wrong could end up with me paying the ultimate price. If I have learned one thing it is this- change hurts. It unsettles me to my core and it can be dangerous.
If I could tell you first, I would. If I could string words and feelings together, I really would. If there was some comprehension, some stream of tangible consciousness the words would be there and all you would have to do would be to get me to speak them. But I do not have the words. I do not have the words to express that which screams and writhes within me. Razors, glass, lighters and matches are my lips; the trickle of blood, the burn, the pain are my physical words. For others the smashing of bodies against walls, the ingestion of items like light bulbs, the pulling of hair are involved. Whatever the method, the physical words are still the same. The physical words that tell of our inner pain and our torment. The physical words that make sense of the inexplicable, the inexpressible. The self harm that momentarily allows us to emotionally speak and heal, to calm the roaring storm. That is until the ocean of pain, of raw distress stirs up again and the transient healing is undone and to our tools we return.
You want our lives to run like clockwork. A tight schedule dictated by funding, limits of patience, supply and demand imbalances. The timing cogs appear as a specified number of sessions or as deadlines. The ‘we’ll be working together for the next ten weeks’ and the ‘you have to sort yourself out by the end of the month or we’ll have to look at moving you on’. New school, new foster care placement, new treatment, basically moved on to somewhere new or back to somewhere old or dumped nowhere if we don’t have a new attitude, a new behaviour. We have to be fixed or at least less broken by the time the clock strikes midnight.