“Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habit. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.”
This is so true when you work with people. We need to be mindful of what we think of our clients. We won’t always like our clients but if they are coming to us for help we need to believe they have capacity to change and to help without judgement. When you stop believing children can change or that a situation can change for a child you are limiting what you are able or willing to do in order to change things for that child.
Know where you are. We are told to meet our clients where they are, but it is important to our work that we know where we are as well. In order to be effective helpers it is important we understand how our work effects us as individuals and seek support so it doesn’t begin to darken the way we see the world and our clients.
Believe in a child’s ability to change. This may mean going outside of the traditional treatments to something that will reach a particular child but, as behaviour is learned, it can be unlearned and changed with support and positive reinforcement. As with adults, when you reward and acknowledge those smalls wins you start to empower them and help them develop hope of their own. Children need boundaries, stability and guidance. Where they don’t have this at home, or may be in care, it is crucial that, where we are involved, we are providing them with them and believing in them.
People under the age of 18 are children/adolescents. There may be those who disagree with me but as someone who has worked with adolescents who craved attention, wanted hugs, were effected by the fact that I can’t give them the attention they want and are still throwing temper tantrums – they are children. I worked with looked after children, children in care to the local authority, and many of them had horrific things happen at crucial stages in their development. Trauma in early stages of life effect a person later in life. Even as I worked with them, I recognised they were missing the childhoods they were never able to live.
Dream: See the possibilities. Believe change is possible. Believe people when they tell you they want help but be clear that you are not going to work harder than they will. It may be a fine line but you are on a way to burnout if you are working harder than your clients. Believe in people’s ability to change and communicate that, but also communicate that it is their lives and you can’t care more than they do.
Respect the small wins. Appreciate the effort it takes people to actually change. Acknowledge how difficult the journey must be for those who have traveled their own paths.
Social Workers do a hard job everyday. It takes it’s toll on us mental, physically and emotionally. We must remember to take care of ourselves so that we can continue to support, empower, encourage and care for others.