LIFT Together with Boys TownSM has partnered with the Pawtucket School District since 2016, with the goals of strengthening schools and families, engaging parents and decreasing negative classroom behavior to support a positive school climate and culture. The service includes In-Home Family Services, which provide life-changing care to families that are struggling with their children's behaviors. Specially trained Family Consultants work with families in their own homes, helping them to improve parenting skills, create a safe, nurturing home environment and use resources in the community to solve problems on their own.
Eight-year-old Christopher would be pulled out of class on a weekly basis for being out of his seat, throwing things or disrupting others. His mother, Silvia, was receiving calls on a regular basis, and would have to pick him up at school.
Silvia was referred to Boys Town New England's LIFT Together program's In-Home Family Services in September of 2022. Wendy Bravo, an In-Home Family Service consultant, worked with Sylvia in her home to strengthen her parenting skills and manage Christopher's disruptive behaviors.
“My stress level was extremely high," Silvia said. “I could not understand why Christopher's behaviors were so significant at school. I was also caring for Christopher's younger sister, and I was overwhelmed."
Wendy implemented a calm down kit strategy. This helped Christopher identify and choose an object that would help calm him down. Items he enjoyed were fidget toys.
“These are not a reward, but can help when he is disruptive," Wendy explained. “For example, in class, his time out will include a fidget toy to displace a little bit of extra energy."
She said finding Christopher ways to earn positive rewards helped his treatment.
“Christopher expressed his like of Sonic the Hedgehog," Wendy said. “I created a task chart for structure and for Christopher to earn positive incentives using the character and the color blue, representative of Sonic. The chart lists his 'to do' chores for the morning and after school. Check marks identify when a task is completed and earns him rewards like time to play a video game."
Wendy explained how she uses her observations in the home to assist the youth at school.
“Once I observe a child's behavior at home, I go to the school to talk with their teacher and assistant principal to share what I've implemented for a home routine, so that the rewards system for positive behavior is similar during classroom time," she said.
“Christopher learns more at school," Sylvia said. “I'm so proud of him. Instead of phone calls to pick-him up at school, I receive messages from his teacher giving him a good report. Today he's having a great day and passed a level and a lecture."
Sylvia, like many parents, is eager to share the success she's seen.
“Since I started working with Wendy, my stress level is much better," she said. “I've applied what I've learned and see a difference in Christopher's behavior. Using the calm down method helped tremendously. Rather than yelling when we're upset, I stop and allow each of us to calm down and then have a conversation. Due to the fact he's able to take space and calm down, he's no longer throwing things when he's upset. He gets over things faster and I'm able to deescalate the situation. I recommend the LIFT Together with Boys Town program because it helps families."