Managing anger and being freed from overwhelming pressure
At age 12 Caleb already held the school record for being sent out of the most classrooms. Many of his teachers could barely last 10 minutes before his rude, loud, disrespectful behaviour caused them to order him out into the hall or pass him on to be disciplined by senior staff.
By age 13 most of the staff had written him off completely, as he simply refused to engage with any subjects – except PE. He was often in trouble for fighting and just couldn’t seem to learn to control himself. Finally the school convinced him to meet with their east to west Relational Support Worker (RSW), although they weren’t hopeful it would make any difference.
Our RSW decided to tread very lightly, and during their regular sessions never pushed Caleb to talk more than he wanted. Together they worked on a few basic anger management and behaviour control skills, which seemed to help a little – but the RSW could sense that they wouldn’t get anywhere until they’d dealt with the root of the problems, and Caleb never seemed to be able to talk about any of his feelings or his family situation.
It wasn’t until about nine months in, after a particularly bad fight with another student, that Caleb finally let his barriers down. Leaving the fight to find his RSW he simply crashed in their office and opened up. He revealed that he was scared he would disappoint his dad, who was in prison for aggravated assault and who had left Caleb in charge of the family. His mum had three other children younger than Caleb to worry about, with no job and no money. They were constantly struggling and Caleb just couldn’t stand the pressure and weight of responsibility any more.
No one at the school knew anything of his home-life, as he’d been so unwilling to ever open up. But once he’d confided in his RSW things began to change almost overnight. He wasn’t perfect by any means, and it took awhile to break all of his bad behavioural habits. But it seemed that his attitude had fundamentally changed, just from knowing that someone cared and could truly be relied on to listen to him and support him, and he really started to make an effort to be different.
Today he’s working in construction and is also taking one day a week to continue his studies at a local college. No one would have expected this positive outcome just a few years ago, and it’s largely thanks to the committed support and encouragement of his RSW.
* All children's names and photos have been changed to protect their identity