Thursday, July 28, 2005

Brat Camp

So, I am watching the show "Brat Camp"(which I TiVo'ed). Andy watched a bit of it and did not like it. The kids drove him nuts.

But honestly, I have had kids that are like that all of the time. Those kids that are like them all of the time, don't last long in the school system or in the home and do end up going to a place like Brat Camp, or by us one of the places they go is to the Sheriff's Youth Program. And I have many or almost all of my kids have acted like this at one time or another.

The thing a person has to remember about a TV program like this is that they are only going to show the things that will get a reaction out of it's viewers. They show the extremes; they show when they act out (which scares people) and they show the moments when they cry or make their parents cry (tugging at the viewers heart strings).

I am glad that they showed how sweet the kids can be. That sweetness is inside there somewhere in all of these kids. But what is also frustrating is the manipulation that the kids do with the parents, and what is even more frustrating is that some of the parents buy into it and then try to continue to enable their kids, which is never helpful because they will never get better.

I don't think that the show is an exaggeration at all, they just aren't showing all the parts. They aren't showing the parts where people are getting along and are doing well (not yelling, crying, or complaining).

Yesterday, we had a summer program day with our kids and we first had them plan out a shopping list with which to buy lunch for 7 people on a $20 budget and then watched a video on distracted driving, then we went mini-golfing, to the driving range, then grocery shopping, then had a picnic, then went to a zoo with animals that are in MN (i.e. cougars, Buffalo, various hawks, raccoons, prairie dogs, etc.) and then finally a stop at DQ. It was a fun time, but not without the inappropriate conversations, not following directions, fighting between students, attention-seeking behaviors, threats to each other, etc. But in between those times the kids would tell us about other things they have done this summer or what is going on in their families.

It may sound like all we did was go out and do fun things, but really - these kids rarely get to do these types of things. And in the reality of their lives they will not need to know a lot of history facts, but they will need to know how to handle themselves when they are participating in an activity that they are not doing well in, they will have to know how to shop on a budget, they will need to know how to work with others even when they don't like them or can't agree, and they will need to know that there are people there that care and want to know about their lives and want to see them do well.

When working with these kids you have to have the right attitude and point-of-view. If you don't you will get burned out and the kids will see this. Even though they try to wear a rough exterior, they are very sensitive. So senstive that they try to protect themselves from rejection with that rough exterior and rejecting others first. You need to look for the small successes and you will not be disappointed. If you expect that someone will have huge changes, both you and the person will be disappointed. And everyone wants to succeeed. If you make it too toughto succeed they will just become frustrated and see it as another time they have not lived up to someone else's (or their own) expectations.

It is a challenging job, but I really love doing it.

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