I recently began working at a group home with mostly teenage girls who have nowhere else to go. They have behavioral and emotional issues. Most have been abused, some severely. They act out, are disrespectful, disobedient, etc. The severity ranges from kids who are just confused about life to kids who are developmentally disabled and in trouble with the law.

They don't seem to understand that following rules is an important life skill to learn and that when they follow rules they can get all of the priveleges and rewards they want. Sometimes I think they just argue because they are bored. Plus, because of the way the "system" is set up, they know they can get away with certain things so they take advantage of that.

Any advice from folks who have worked with these kinds of kids is appreciated! 

MidnightOasis MidnightOasis
36-40, F
7 Responses Jan 4, 2009

Peer counseling sounds like a good idea. I may suggest that.<br />
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I think part of the problem I had is that the other adult I was teamed with didn't stick to the house rules or back me up when the kids mouthed off. He wants the kids to like him, so if I set a boundary or try to enforce a rule, he let them break it and set a really bad example.

I am a teen who works with teens who've been put in Juvenile Delinquency systems. It's part of school community service, but I have grown to enjoy it in a way. If you try and tell these kids how they should be or if you're too nice to them, it makes no difference. However, being a teen I've set examples for quite a few of them, the ones who have peer counseling. <br />
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Pretty much, I reach these teen by never patronizing them. I talk to them about my life and they talk about theirs. Often, they look at me tell me I don't understand living hard. When I explain some of my past and my personality to them, they realize I'm really not different from them. I've just chosen to make life easier on myself by not causing trouble. <br />
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The kids I work with are the ones adult counselors can't reach. I blame this on the fact that adults try too hard, when sometimes all a kid needs is another kid who understands but gives them a little hope. Kindness isn't always the answer any more than bitterness or sterness is. Just try and be a friend of sorts. You'll get them to respect you more that way.

well, u can't change the system can you. The change needs to come from the inside. The counselling needs to be good.<br />
You yourself are in a difficult situation though. You don't want to let them disrespect you but don't get defensive, angry or anything like that because that'll give them an excuse to really start disrespecting you, it's a vicious circle that way. Just be calm at all times and treat them like equals/adults rather than poor little victim children because they need to have a feeling of empowerment, like it is really up to them to change and not that they need to do this because otherwise they get punished. You might want to tell them that you agree, the system is **** and then tell them don't u want to control your own life rather than being bossed around, a slave to the system, being treated like scum that is incapable of anything. Say that you can help them to play this **** system and make it work for them rather than the other way round. And for those who want to get pregnant, why do they want to bring children to the world the same way they were, surely they will sympathise and find this too cruel. <br />
Maybe you can get speakers in to tell them that living on benefits isn't all that etc. If you get good speakers they can identify with, it might just inspire them.<br />
All they want is someone who will believe in them and focus on their good qualities rather than the bad, and what trouble they've gotten into. Are there music projects etc?

I want to become a helper to those who need an escape because I know how it feels to be cornered and battered around mentally and physically. It's extremely tormenting. I am living in a bad environment now and very slowly and sadly tanking through it in till I'm able to support myself and move out. I've had people reach out but it feels impossible, I think I fear the thought of not having a familiar place to run to, that I've gotten used too... I'm so helpless sometimes LOL. Thanks for posting this comment because I obviously never would have found it if you hadn't and thought about becoming some one who reaches out to those who are unable to help themselves completely because this brought back a tiny spark saying "I can do this.." even if I am apparently digging my own hole and can't get out of it.

I am gentle. And they take advantage of that, call me nasty names even when I am kind. They are severely disturbed people who are abusive towards their caretakers. I am not a doormat but they treat the caretakers badly and that is why it is difficult to deal with their behavior.<br />
Yes they are hurting. But that does not mean it is OK for them to be abusive towards others.

No, they haven't come voluntarily. They are placed in this facility because of their behavior problems and because there is no one to care for them. Their parents are gone (they abandoned the kids, are in prison, etc.)<BR><BR>These kids live in a nice facility, it's clean, they are well fed and get practically everything they ask for. but they are not grateful to have a roof over their heads at all. They yell, hit, refuse to do what they are asked, etc. and then demand that you do things for them and buy them things.<BR><BR>I understand that they want control. I totally "get" that. but they don't "get" that once they age out of the system at 18 years old, the skills they use in the group home are NOT gonna work in the real world. In the facility, if they refuse to go to school or work, they have "points" taken away and lose priveleges. So they just run away for a few days and hang out with their street friends. They think it's a big joke and many are planning to get pregnant so they can get welfare and not have to work. And they think that is a perfectly OK way to live.<BR><BR>They are setting themselves up to live off the welfare system forever and by law we have to let them get away with their bad behavior because it's illegal to allow them to become homeless. (We can't kick them out.) So they run away, prostitute themselves, sneak drugs/alcohol, get pregnant, etc. and every time we HAVE to take them back and they know it. So they use it to their advantage.<BR><BR>Meanwhile, at age 18 they have no job skills or diploma because they don't show up for school or their life skills classes. It's frustrating.

have they come voluntarily to this organization. Because if they haven't, I understand their behaviour. Imagine practically raising yourself, no one to care for you. And then you get put in this place where people suddenly 'care' for you and you have to follow a system which to them might not represent life. It's like being a little kid with a giant parent towering over you, shouting and pointing his finger. I think they argue because they want control and want the last word. Just my thoughts.