Adults often think kids just automatically "pick up" the skills and behaviors they need to be successful in relationships, school, a job or other life endeavors. But that's not how kids acquire skills, and it's certainly not true for many of the youth who come to Boys Town for treatment and care.
For those boys and girls, a lack of appropriate skills and a wealth of inappropriate behaviors have become the norm in their lives, and have left them ill-prepared to experience a formative childhood that will set the stage for becoming a productive adult.
That's why Boys Town's approach to helping troubled or at-risk kids has always been skill based. That means we focus on teaching youth social skills, coping skills, independent-living skills and other skills that are essential to achieving goals and finding success. And all of this teaching takes place in the context of developing healthy, trusting relationships with their peers and the adults who provide direction and encouragement in their journey.
At Boys Town, our Family Home Program helps kids heal in body, mind and spirit.
More than 400 youth, ages 10 to 18, live in the Village of Boys Town, Nebraska, a community of nearly 60 family-style homes. Each Family Home is staffed by a specially trained couple called Family-Teachers®, who provide a warm, caring and structured environment for six to eight boys or girls. (Youth also receive care in Family Homes at some of our affiliate sites around the country.)
In their Family Home, at school and in their daily routines, each youth has numerous opportunities to learn social, coping, independent-living and academic skills.
- Social skills are sets of behaviors, usually done in a certain order, that enable a person to function in society and get along with others. They include basic skills like "Following Instructions," "Accepting 'No' for an Answer" and "Starting a Conversation."
- Coping skills are strategies for managing life's challenges and obstacles, especially those that can cause stress and anxiety. They can include calming and relaxation techniques, and knowing how to ask for help from a trusted adult.
- Independent-living skills involve acquiring the necessary knowledge for living on one's own. They can include knowing how to balance a checkbook, pay bills, shop for groceries and apply for a job.
- Academic skills, such as time and task management, working with others and displaying appropriate behaviors in the classroom, are essential for school success, at every grade level.
At Boys Town, we believe children need a healthy balance of learning and fun activities in order to grow and thrive. While youth come to Boys Town to work on specific, individual problems, they also enjoy the normal activities and experiences every child deserves as part of growing up.
So, besides receiving effective, individualized therapeutic care that helps them overcome their problems and develop a solid foundation for the future, our boys and girls have numerous opportunities to just be kids, from summertime fishing and riding bikes across campus to sledding and cheering on Boys Town Cowboy sports teams. Even in these activities, the focus is on teaching skills that will help youth achieve success and develop healthy, positive relationships.
Academic success is a vital component of the Boys Town residential experience. Boys Town believes that children must receive a good education in order to be able to contribute to society, go on to college and live independently once they leave. We are very proud of the fact that about 90% of our boys and girls graduate high school.
Spirituality also plays a very important role in our youth's progress. Boys Town families worship and pray together before meals, and there's always time for private reflection and prayer for our boys and girls. By strengthening their faith lives at Boys Town, our boys and girls learn how to serve God and serve others.
Why is it so important to teach youth skills and help them build valuable support systems through family, school and spirituality?
Because our research shows that Boys Town's skill-based approach gives children their best chance to build bright, productive futures. When they leave, our kids go to college, get a job or join the military. They get married, start families of their own and become good parents. Years after receiving care, Boys Town youth – even those with the most severe problems – achieve success as adults.
The wonderful thing about our positive approach to helping children is that these parenting concepts can be applied in any home, by any parent. Our emphasis on teaching young people skills and how to build healthy relationships are best parenting practices that are effective can and benefit every Mom and Dad (and every grandparent) as they guide their children through childhood and into adulthood. And they are the foundation of all of Boys Town' child and family programs, including in-home services, foster care, parenting classes and behavioral health treatment.
At Boys Town, skills and healthy relationships are the keys to happier, healthier kids!