A few years back I was a consulting psychologist to a large children’s home in south Texas. One of the caseworkers, Joy, had to go up to the elementary campus to bring a girl home because of a behavioral episode at school. (This happened often as these youngsters had been displaced from their homes of origin for various reasons; many of them were still pretty upset about it.)
Joy and the other caseworkers made it a point that any youngster brought home under these circumstances while school was going on was not going to have a better time at home. She put the girl to work raking and sweeping leaves out in the front of the administration building.
I made a trip up to the admin office and spoke briefly to the girl as I was going inside. She told me Joy had given her that job to do. I returned to the office a couple of hours later and noticed how the girl was still out front, raking and sweeping.
“How long are you supposed to do this?” I asked her, pointing to the good-sized pile of leaves she had raked.
“UNTIL JOY COMES BACK,” she responded.
Wow, think of what you could do with that response. In this case she was talking about her caseworker, but the same “until Joy comes back” could be the easiest remedy for the sort of thing that happens with a youngster (or an adult) who falls into a kind of funk that wants to paralyze them.
Activity always helps. By the time we break out of doing nothing and get active in some way, however small, we feel better.
When we decide to DO something, joy might not come rushing back, but perhaps it could be coaxed into taking a “U”-turn.
A nationally recognized child and adolescent psychologist and speaker, Dr. James Sutton is the author of The Changing Behavior Book: A Fresh Approach to the Difficult Child. He is the founder and host of The Changing Behavior Network, a popular internet radio program supporting young people and their families, and every month he publishes The Changing Behavior Digest, offering tips on managing difficult children and teens. Both resources (and others) are available at no cost through his website, http://www.DocSpeak.com.