By Emily Pringle, Behavior Specialist Cottage A
I have been at Ryther for a little over a year now. What keeps me here every day is working with the kids in the cottages. It’s a unique job because you get a really cool opportunity to build relationships with the kids. It’s a fulfilling experience when you walk into work and the kids are excited to see you, and want to tell you all the great things they’ve been up to in treatment and school. When you build a positive relationship with a child it completely changes the interactions you have with them. We have quite a few kids who are extremely relational and until you have built that with them you won’t get anywhere. A lot of these kids just see you as another adult who is there to tell them what to do or where to be; they really don’t have much attachment to you. It’s when you get the opportunity to have a relationship – it changes everything. You are able to reflect back and say, “We’ve been here before. Remember when this happened – you were so upset and we worked through it together and you used your coping skills to handle it?” Being able to reflect like this can really help children learn and move forward.
I’m not going to lie, it can be frustrating at times when you try so hard to show these kids that you are safe and here to help them. But most of our kids have been through a lot of trauma and abuse and they aren’t always ready or capable of trusting another adult. We see a child’s history and we figure out where we want them to end up in treatment. The end goal is for them to leave Ryther and live a happy life with a wonderful family. The tough part is implementing that plan, and working with them through the ups and downs of daily life. A lot of these kids don’t always have a good grasp on what a healthy relationship looks like. Some don’t even know that safe and trustworthy adults even exist. Many aren’t even used to having three meals a day or know that you wash your clothes when dirty. You can make a huge difference in the smallest ways here and give them opportunities they never thought possible. It’s really a neat experience to see the kid who comes in the door and then to see that kid who leaves. They’re usually two different people and it’s inspiring to see the changes that they make.
I believe we can change children’s futures by teaching coping skills and better ways to work through their emotions. We teach them to identify their feelings and frustrations and help them work through that in a safe way. Over time they learn what a safe environment really is; they start to relax and they get the opportunity to just be kids. Toward the end of treatment most kids have a whole different idea of where they can go in life and what they can do. Ryther 100% changes the way a kid can imagine their life and when that happens, their whole future can change. They leave here with so much potential and excitement for life. Ryther helps kids who need a second chance at life, and it gives them one.