Sunday, March 4, 2012


A mom and her little boy moved into the shelter a few weeks ago. My first experience with them was that she was yelling loud enough to waken the dead before I entered the dining room, and he was screaming and crying louder than you’d think possible for such a little guy. 

Not surprisingly, his behavior was pretty much unmanageable for much of group that night. A babysitter kept him close to her side and was able to quiet him down after a while.

Each week, his behavior improved in group, to the point where one of us saying, “You’re not listening” or,  “Do you want Time Out? One, two. ..” brought immediate compliance. He was proud when he avoided Time Out. Began to play with other kids. Even smiled once in a while.

One night at supper he beamed when I told his mother he was doing much better in group. She didn’t smile and barely acknowledged his accomplishment. A couple minutes later, he refused to do what she told him. She yelled, didn’t give him Time Out, turned away. He continued to disobey until I asked him if he wanted a Time Out and started counting.

This mom has had a rough time, but that’s no excuse. Every mother in the shelter has had a rough time, but they are trying to help their kids adjust to their authority. Unfortunately, this little guy’s mom seems to be blaming his negative behaviors on his abusive father.  

Until she takes the lead by consistently and calmly disciplining him, “catches him being good,” and is able to see him as a victim like herself, he will not improve on her watch. 

Let’s hope she can make some significant changes in how she relates to him and how she feels about him before they leave the shelter. His whole life may depend on it.

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