On why it is so important to let our troubled teens know that they are capable of change, by substituting their sense of personal lack or deficiency to one of being enough.
What happens when we stop thinking we are an expert when we meet with our teens? What happens when we stop thinking we know it all? What happens when we open our hearts, minds and start really listening?
IMAGE PUZZLEHEAD 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…
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.
It’s all your fault. All your f’in fault. You can’t just leave me alone, leave me to do my thing can you? You have to meddle, stick your nose in where it’s not wanted. And I hate you for it. I absolutely bloody hate you for it. Everyone’s at it. You’re at it, teachers are at it, social workers, doctors, nurses, therapists, care home workers, you’re all in it together making my life a flippin’ living hell. If you’d just leave me, my family, my mates alone I’d be just fine. Thinking you know better about me and my life than I do, f’in cheek. I hate you, you hate me. Well this is going to work well isn’t it?
Another bare room. Another caseworker. Another foster carer. Another care home. Another secure unit. Another hostel. Just another, another, another. Cos I am just A.N. Other. Nothing special, nothing worth caring about, nothing worth taking much notice of, except when you want to get me to do something, or stop doing something. Either way it’s about what you want and not much to do with me. I don’t really figure in the equation. I’m just A.N. Other. Apparently suited to being shoved around from pillar to post. So as I live my name and move on to another something, I add my own ‘another’. Another hurt to add to my chest of disappointment, of heartbreak. Of feeling that I only get what I deserve. Of feeling like a nobody and that nobody cares. And as my chest gets fuller, my heart, my hope gets emptier and emptier.
I’m a label, a sticker, a scrawl on a file A person lost in the paper mile That runs from birth to right here now You know me but you don’t and I’ll tell you how My name spells trouble, it’s written ahead In the assessments, the reports, the letters you’ve read You know my circumstance, my life, my woe But any deeper you just won’t go
On coming alongside our teens and providing them with the tools to solve their problems rather than just taking over. They are the captains of their own ship.
Did you knock on my door? Did you want to see? Or was the sterile incomplete description in my report enough for you? Or what your colleague told you over the kettle? Or what my social worker told you over the phone? You want to see what my life is like. You ask me in your appointment room, in the cafe or in detention, to tell you what life at home is like. But why should I bother to tell you? Do you really want to see? Your words tell me you don’t cos if you really wanted to know, you wouldn’t ask, you’d come and see.