When Anne was referred to Chance UK she was 8 years old and lived with her mum and 2 older brothers in a small one bedroom flat awaiting to be rehoused. The teenage brothers displayed quite aggressive behaviour at home towards mum and they fought between them, Anne started to copy some of this behaviour and could be very challenging. Anne was sharing a bed with mum in their living room which made a bedtime routine difficult. She was also a young carer at times when mum’s poor health deteriorated and helped with shopping and other household chores. Anne found it difficult to accept boundaries and her role as a child compared to adults, she would often get into discussions with mum and staff at school arguing as if she was an adult. She was also drawn to older children.
At the time of referral Anne was very needy and always wanted attention, often turning into negative attention seeking behaviour. She would be overpowering when she made friends at school, not wanting to share them and exhaust them quickly; she could not maintain friendships. Sometimes she intentionally upset other children which meant they rejected her and she got more and more isolated. Outside home she would try to get attention through being overly friendly with strangers which made her vulnerable. Even though she came across as confident, this was just a front for protection, she had her walls up and didn’t want to be seen struggling. She had low self esteem and could not accept being reprimanded or corrected, she then sulked or put herself down saying she wasn’t good at anything.
Anne was matched with Marie, a fun mentor who had similar interests as her and was a strong female role model for Anne but also someone who put clear boundaries in place and wasn’t faced by any tantrums. At the beginning Anne would test her when she couldn’t have her own way, storming off, throwing things on the floor and screaming. Very soon Anne learned that Marie didn’t respond to this behaviour and gave her space to calm down in order to reflect and explore other ways to express herself and for example make compromises. They worked together so that Anne learned to recognise when anger was coming up and asking for time out to calm down; she also learned to apply this at school.
The mentoring sessions provided some valuable, problem free time away from chores and from getting in trouble at school, Anne could just be a child again and have fun on the sessions such as going to the playground, go swimming or doing arts and crafts in the library. She loved coming onto the sessions and the mentor focused on lots of positive feedback for positive behaviours. The mentor also exposed her to situations such as group sessions and workshops that involved other children, encouraging her to make friends and practice social skills like sharing, taking turns and giving others space. The goals set at the 3month review supported the areas Anne needed to work on.
School reported at the end of the mentoring year that her relationship with other children has improved a lot; she is friendly, says kind things to others and builds relationships with children outside her friendships as well. She is very caring and funny and developed a great sense of humour, not being scared to laugh about herself; her self esteem improved a lot and she is more secure within herself. She also wants to be a child now and do age appropriate activities as opposed to a teenager before. At school she is also more settled and much calmer now, not starting fights at playtime anymore but dealing with situations verbally and asking for adult help. She learned to recognise when she starts getting angry and manages to control her feelings preventing outbursts which means other children are not scared of her anymore.
Mum and mentor noticed that she stopped speaking to strangers in public apart from polite replies and she keeps herself safe, showing appropriate behaviour around adults and children.
Mum said that they are much closer now and Anne is a happier child. When Anne gets angry at home she runs upstairs and calms down; this happens much quicker now and afterwards she apologises. Mum continues to take Anne to an acting school that Chance UK organised funding for so that she has an activity after mentoring ends that she enjoys, is proud of and that helps her expressing herself.
“I want to thank Marie for teaching me how to behave and let me learn new experiences and go to places I have never been to before. Even if I have been rude to her, she will forgive me and give me another chance.”