When a child is new to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch, the staff share a little about them so they are aware of possible conversations or situations that may trigger negative behaviors. We focus on their strengths and how we can give them every opportunity to see they can succeed and be their best selves.
When “Joseph” joined us I knew he had violent outbursts related to feeling threatened. Whether the threat was real or perceived didn’t really matter. He had learned to strike out to survive.
We saw the behaviors almost right away. He perceived any direction as a threat. He is amazingly kind when not under pressure, but he feels pressure from the gentlest of suggestions.
I learned long ago in this work, it is not about “what’s wrong with this kid?” It’s about “what happened to this kid?”
One day, Joseph was sitting in the hallway outside my office with Sydney, one of the Ranch therapy dogs, taking a break during the school day. Ten minutes of away time can do wonders to reduce the pressure he feels!
As he gently played with Sydney, giggling and feeding her dog food from the palm of his hand, he started telling the Ranchers with him about the dogs he had at home when “he was little.” (Frankly, he’s still pretty little.) They had two. I was just eavesdropping, so I missed when he mentioned the breed, but they were big dogs.
As he talked about the dogs, which he clearly loved, he told the story about the day one of the dogs bit his brother. His father reacted by grabbing the dog and swinging it with all his might into one wall and then the other, then dropping it on the floor where it lay.
He shared all this while gently petting the funny Aussiedoodle lying next to him.
Joseph has a lot to overcome. I believe he has taken one of the first steps. He shared that story because he needed to. He is starting to let us know “what happened to him.”
Please keep Joseph and all our kids and staff in your prayers.
In His love,
Joy Ryan, President/CEO
Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch
Your Thrivent Choice Dollars® can be used to support multiple organizations each year. At the Ranch, we use all Thrivent Choice® funds for our Spiritual Life Program. Your support is vital in giving our precious children the foundation of faith they need to thrive. To direct your Choice Dollars® to the Ranch, simply go to Thrivent.com/thriventchoice, login, and choose Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch. To direct Choice Dollars® over the phone, call 1-800-847-4863 and say "Thrivent Choice," after the prompt. The deadline is MARCH 31st, so direct your Choice Dollars® today! Thank you for your continued support of our ministry!
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