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Mom, Son Replace Hurt with Healing, Thanks to Boys Town

Benji's mom was troubled, frustrated and overwhelmed.

She was trying her best to get the help her 8-year-old son needed but she didn't think anyone was taking his problems seriously.

Benji had a history of violent emotional outbursts, destroying property at school, and threatening to hurt, and even kill, himself. Mom was always on edge and the home she and her son shared was in constant turmoil.

It wasn't until this worried mom reached out to the Outpatient Behavioral Health Clinic at Boys Town Washington DC that she felt like her son could truly get better. Mom initially contacted Boys Town and received consultation and assistance in arranging for the youngster to be admitted to a medical treatment center. Once his condition was stabilized, Benji and his mother started outpatient therapy with Dr. Avital Deskalo, a staff psychologist at the clinic.

With Benji displaying symptoms of ADHD, which further complicated his condition, therapy focused on addressing his ability to cope with difficult emotions and situations in a healthy manner and teaching him how to follow his mother's instructions at home without throwing tantrums.

Dr. Deskalo said a key to helping Benji improve his behaviors was teaching his mom how to use positive reinforcement.

“I modeled positive parenting approaches, such as labeled praise, and coached Benji's mother in applying labeled praise to different areas," Dr. Deskalo said. “His mother observed an improvement in Benji's behavior when she started to show positive emotion and attention strategically and at a higher rate."

While there were many tough moments, Benji's mom continued to work hard on using the new behavior management strategies she learned in therapy sessions and consistently addressed Benji's outbursts when they occurred.

The result has been a significant improvement in Benji's ability to work through difficult situations, and, most importantly, fewer outbursts. Mom has strengthened her relationship with her son and has become a more confident parent, bringing calm and stability to their home.  

“Things are so much better with the help of Boys Town and Dr. Deskalo," Benji's mom said. “I now have concrete and effective strategies to prevent problem behaviors or positively turn them around quickly when they begin."

Benji's treatment is ongoing as he and his mom continue their journey of healing. But the frustration and worry of the past has been replaced by hope, and Boys Town Washington DC will be with them every step of the way.