John was about to turn four years old when his baby sister, Elizabeth, was born. His parents had just separated, and John was having an extra hard time adjusting to the arrival of his new sibling. Because of this, John began exhibiting more aggressive behavior toward Elizabeth, his baby sister. John would throw toys at Elizabeth when his mother was holding her or would hit the baby when she was napping and wake her up. Mary, John’s mother, knew she needed help. At one of Elizabeth’s newborn check ups, Mary asked the Pediatrician if there were any counselors or programs that could help their family. The Pediatrician gave her some basic tips, but also referred the family to A Child’s Haven (ACH).
Four days later, Mary, John, and Elizabeth came for their intake appointment with one of our Child and Family Therapists (CFT). During the intake, the CFT learned about Mary’s recent separation from her children’s father. Mary reported her husband had been emotionally abusing her for years but had recently become more aggressive by hitting her during some arguments. While still pregnant with Elizabeth, Mary left her husband. Unfortunately, John witnessed some of these fights. The CFT continued asking questions and created an individual plan of care that set goals for John and the family during their time with ACH.
After completing the intake process, John and Elizabeth started treatment at ACH. During the first few months, John was aggressive toward his peers and teachers. He also exhibited a lot of sadness and other tough emotions. Fortunately, with the help of our trained staff, these outbursts led to breakthroughs. With daily intervention in our Therapeutic Child Care program, and several Individual Therapy and Family Therapy sessions, John, and the whole family, began making progress!
In the treatment rooms, our team equipped John with coping skills for the tough emotions that came from some of the trauma he endured. For example, when John would get upset and begin throwing things, our staff would divert his attention away from the situation, get him to take a deep breath, and walk away. John also learned to touch each finger to his thumb while counting to ten. These actions may seem small, but these small habits along with other interventions changed John’s world.
Mary learned coping skills of her own to deal with the trauma she’d experienced from her ex-husband. Together, their family began to heal and was eventually discharged. Since leaving ACH, Mary reported that John continues to progress daily. He no longer shows aggression towards his little sister. In fact, John has begun helping mom around the house by completing small chores and consoling Elizabeth when she’s upset.