By Children’s Program Director Ryan Blake
The first couple times I met with Marcus, I could see in his eyes that he was angry. Our conversations usually consisted of how he was arguing with his family, upset about where he lived, mad at other kids, or frustrated at school. Whatever the situation was that day, he was unequipped to control his emotions. Sometimes he would get so upset that he was unable to verbalize how he felt or what went wrong. Marcus started the 4th grade this year and has already been suspended 3 times for anger related incidents.
We began working one-on-one with Marcus on program nights. We focused his lessons on anger management, regulation of emotions, and controlling impulses. Marcus has been incredibly receptive to our classes. He relates the material to situations in his life and reflects on how his decisions affect those around him. He has never missed a class.
Last night I spoke with Marcus after class. He told me he read a book called When Sophie Gets Angry..Really, Really Angry (by Molly Bang). He described the story to me and explained that Sophie went outside and looked at the water to calm down. I asked what he does to calm down. He told me he sits on the front porch and watches cars when he gets really worked up. I asked him what if he couldn’t go outside because he was in the middle of a math lesson at school. He told me “your answer is to get a drink of water, take deep breaths, or tell the teacher what is going on. My answer is usually to yell at whoever is bothering me or make them stop.” I asked him what one will keep you in school. He pointed to me and said “I know, I will try.”
I know that Marcus will probably continue to have anger problems at school. But I think we both feel better knowing that he doesn’t have to yell or push someone. He now has another card to play.