The Together Project is a Fort Worth Moms Blog initiative to support local non-profits impacting women and children in North Texas and to mobilize FWMB readers to meet immediate needs. We are honored to partner with ACH Child and Family Services, who work throughout Tarrant County to protect children from abuse and preserve families. Together — because your family is my family.
Karen was having trouble with her friends. One of her best friends suddenly stopped talking to her. The friend accused Karen of lying and was telling others lies about Karen. This was all very confusing and devastating to Karen. Why would one of her closest friends bully her like this? She thought if she threatened to harm herself, her friend would start talking to her again.
Help for Karen
Her mother realized that while the bullying may have led to Karen’s self-harming behavior, she felt it really stemmed from low self-esteem and a desire for attention. So she brought Karen to ACH Child and Family Services in hopes of building Karen’s self-confidence and to help her understand the importance of honesty and building healthy relationships.
Karen’s own goals went beyond managing relationships; she wanted to improve at anger management.
The ACH counselor recognized Karen’s challenges and saw a perfect opportunity to employ an approach known as “seeking safety.” She gave Karen some information on setting boundaries in relationships. With the help of the handouts, Karen realized she struggled with saying “no” in relationships and tended to trust too easily.
After processing these characteristics, Karen and her counselor discussed the positives and negatives of saying no. They also discussed different scenarios where it is necessary to say no and when it is okay to say yes. They went further to talk about how to know when someone is trustworthy. For example, Karen mentioned how a classmate had asked to borrow her necklace. Karen was not certain this classmate would return the necklace (not enough trust), and therefore she said no. They even brainstormed ways to say no in inappropriate and appropriate ways.
Another example was when her brother asked to borrow a pencil. Karen said “yes” to him, and he returned the pencil the next day. Her trust in others had deteriorated, but after this, she now knows for sure she is able to trust her brother.
At the closing session, Karen’s mother stated she feels Karen has improved in both self-confidence and maturity. Karen now has a better understanding of how to handle problems and maintain healthy relationships and boundaries with classmates.
Although Karen’s story had a positive outcome, more than one out of every five students report being bullied. For those who have been bullied, ACH counselors offer the following advice.
Take Feelings Seriously
“First, don’t disregard your child’s feelings. Listen to him or her, and do not try to minimize the impact bullying has. Assure that he or she is not alone and you will support him or her through this phase. Be in constant communication with teachers and school personnel, and monitor your child’s behavioral changes and performance at school.” — Angel Perez, LCDC-1
“It is important to help each child identify personal strengths and supportive relationships. This helps victims of bullies become resilient and realize there are people who love and care for them as people no matter what someone else says. I also like to role-play how to handle different scenarios and practice using assertive voices. It is hard to think in the heat of the moment, so it helps kids to be armed with an effective response.” — Kelsi Sulgrove, LMSW
Consider Everyone’s Needs
“We look at the needs not met by the person being bullied, like wanting safety, consideration, and not getting hurt. Help him or her feel heard and feel safe. Then, if we can focus on the root cause of what need the bully is trying to meet (even if it’s a strategy we don’t like), we may be able to help him or her find other ways to meet the need without harming others. The goal is to reduce conflicts, help others see the harm done, and to restore relations.” — Owen Kinser, BAAS
“Always let your voice be heard. Tell someone who can help you.” — Dania Rodriguez
If your child is experiencing bullying, anxiety / depression, anger management / behavioral problems, “Real Help for Real Life” youth and family counseling is available for free from ACH Child and Family Services. Immediate assistance and crisis intervention is available for youth ages six through 17 — or older if enrolled in high school.
ACH offers flexible scheduling for busy families, bilingual sessions, and a 96 percent success rate using evidence-based curricula. So whether your child is struggling with school attendance, reckless or criminal behavior, conflicts at home, or talks of running away, call ACH at 817-335-HOPE (-4673) or visit realhelpforreallife.org.
ACH Child and Family Services is dedicated to protecting children and preserving families. Abuse and neglect are significant problems in the communities it serves, with Tarrant County suffering from the third-highest number of abused children of any county in Texas.
With more than a century of experience, ACH, a Fort Worth-based nonprofit agency, brings needed resources and skills to children and families struggling with life’s challenges. Some of its programs keep children and families together, while others provide a healing home for children who can’t live with their families. Its vision is for families to thrive and children to experience safety, hope, and love. Learn more at ACHservices.org.