Most of the kids at The Ranches are struggling to keep a façade in place that hides who they really are.
The reason for this façade is simple, they didn’t get a lot of positive feedback for who they were when they were too young to build a false identity. We all start off with the raw material and building blocks of what later becomes our personality. Some of us are introverted and some, like me, are extroverted. Some of us are detail oriented and some of don’t quite possess the ability to see life’s granular details. And some of us are linear thinkers, while some are circular in our thinking and often return to the beginning so that we can start again with a refined strategy based on what we learned from previous attempts. Some of us see success and failure as our only outcomes and some see every attempt as a step in the greater journey.
While you and I may look at this list and come to the conclusion that we are not discussing right and wrong as we are simply looking at differences in the way we go about accomplishing outcomes, many parents attempt to raise their children with a right outcome in mind thus rendering all other outcomes to be wrong. Many of the kids that we serve fall into this latter category and we work to go back to their initial state of being and start again. Simply the idea of doing so is foreign to most of our residents, but they get the hang of it…eventually.
We must lead the way in this area by committing ourselves to being honest with kids and to encourage them to communicate their initial reactions to the situations that they face while they are with us. Teaching them that their initial reaction is an emotional reaction is critical as we can then teach them the important lesson of processing emotional reactions into logical thought processes. Once we have their honest emotional reaction, we can then begin to shape their subsequent thoughts into courses of action. Eventually, they learn to integrate their thoughts and emotions into responses that lead to decisions that benefit them in the long run.
As a result, they become less impulsive and more patient. This allows for relationships that are both equitable and beneficial which leads to breaking their cycle of negative thinking. Once their negative thought process fades, their need to keep up a façade also fades and we begin to see the person that they were intended to be.