Making an Impact – Transforming Into a Good Kid
In the Making an Impact series, clients and services are featured to expand awareness of the wide array of help available at JFS and to ensure donors understand the lives they touch and the difference they make throughout the community. Client names have been changed to protect their confidentiality.
When 11-year-old Larry began counseling several years ago he was angry and bitter about almost all aspects of his life. His parents lived apart, his father seldom saw him, and teachers were seen as unfair and uninspiring.
While extraordinarily bright, Larry was working well below his academic potential, finding little value in completing his homework or attempting things in school that at first blush he found boring or distasteful. Larry felt like the world constantly did him wrong, and hostility and stubborn resistance were his primary ways of coping with day-to-day demands. Problems dogged him everywhere he went and Larry seemed to take pride in only one thing—being a “bad kid”—something in which he excelled.
Life did not turn around quickly for Larry as a result of counseling at JFS. As soon as he seemed to become more cooperative and socially appropriate, Larry always seemed to find ways to sabotage his therapeutic gains by engaging in some other negative behaviors that got him removed from class or suspended from school.
However, the gentle patience of his therapist and his parents ultimately paid off. Through weekly play and “talk” sessions, Larry became better able to express his feelings and needs in safer, more appropriate, and less self-destructive ways. His father became more actively involved in his life, and his parents began to establish clearer expectations while disciplining Larry in more effective and consistent ways. Many of the stresses at home abated.
After attending three different schools in four years, Larry finally found a positive school atmosphere in the sixth grade, and teachers and peers alike are smitten with his intelligence, warmth and sense of humor. Larry’s counseling helped him turn several important corners in his life. Not only does he feel more secure in the face of greater family stability and predictability, but for the first time Larry looks forward to school, describing his teachers and classmates as “awesome!” Perhaps most importantly, he now experiences a host of positive feelings that accompany his status as a “good kid in training.”