At Fire Mountain, we instill a sense of belonging among our clients and alumni with the concept of belonging to the “Bear Tribe.” When our clients join the bear tribe by entering our program, they are encouraged to “get each other’s backs.” Past clients, who have completed our program are considered lifetime members of the bear tribe. Some of our past clients have come back to the program to discuss their experiences with the kids currently in treatment.
Changing behavior is difficult for anyone, even when we change for the better. As a member of the bear tribe, our kids do not need to change alone. Fostering a supportive, community environment helps kids open up with one another and with their staff. A sense of belonging is incredibly important for anyone suffering from depression, anxiety, drug and alcohol addiction, or other issues. At Fire Mountain, we make sure to include the family in treatment and teach parents new ways of helping their kids. Being the parent of a troubled teen can be lonely as well and we are here to help.
Unique Challenges of Troubled Kids
Kids with emotional issues may feel that they are different and do not belong. They may not feel as valued as their peers, who appear “normal.” Feeling different can foster more feelings of loneliness and isolation among troubled kids. They may also have been in public or in school when something triggered an emotional reaction, like crying or acting out in anger. When these things occur in a school setting among other peers, kids may feel shame after what their peers have witnessed. They may be embarrassed or even be vulnerable to bullying or harassment. They might have a difficult time developing close and intimate friendships with their peers, therefore having less support to help them with their struggles.
Without building strong friendships, kids can find themselves struggling in other areas. They may be reluctant to pursue interests in other activities, as they may fear feeling further alienated. They might also lack the self-esteem needed to try new things, like sports or music, as learning any new skill requires us to fail to learn. Kids with lower self-esteem may not be able to brush off failure as easily as other kids. When kids are not engaged in meaningful activities, they may fall back to negative outlets for entertainment or stimulation. They might begin using drugs or alcohol to numb their feelings or out of boredom. They might spend the majority of their free time on social media or watching television, which can set them up to compare themselves to others or to wish for unobtainable lifestyles.
The Influence of Peers
The influence of our peers on our behaviors and self-esteem is powerful. Each day, kids are spending the majority of their time interacting with their peers. Peers can have a huge impact, both positive and negative on kids. When kids engage in problematic behaviors due to peer pressure, they may do so to fulfill their sense of belonging. They do things they would otherwise not do if they were not following the encouragement of peers. We should however take time to consider how to make the most of this influence. Do we ever think about the positive impact of peers or do we spend our time only thinking about the potential negative impacts of peer pressure?
When kids are surrounded by peers who are making positive and healthy choices they can also be influenced by their peers. If a majority of their peers are engaging in healthy behaviors, then fitting in with their peer group would involve the act of also making healthy choices. When troubled kids need treatment, they may benefit from the support of other kids learning healthy living skills as well. They can be exposed to peers who are also motivated to recovery and who can understand them more. The Bear Tribe is all about bringing these kids together in a healthy way. We want to encourage kids that they can support and help one another. When kids are in positive environments away from bullies or peers that make them feel ashamed they can begin to grow and change. They can start to feel like they belong to something and fit in with other members of the Bear Tribe.
By encouraging our kids that they are part of an inclusive Bear Tribe and an inclusive group of diverse kids with varying problems and issues, we hope to instill a message of hope and support to troubled kids.
Fire Mountain instills a message of hope and inclusiveness for all kids who are struggling with their emotions or engaging in self-defeating behaviors. We want all kids suffering to know that they are not alone. They belong to the Bear Tribe and all members of the Bear Tribe support and look out for one another. Does your kid seem lost or lack meaningful friendships due to other issues that may have created a sense of shame? Does your kid feel like they struggle with connecting with others? At Fire Mountain, we encourage kids to engage in positive and healthy behaviors. We foster a community of belonging, understanding, and respect. We invite past clients to speak to our kids to continue to encourage the sense of belonging they need by knowing that others are looking out for them. Call us today at (303) 443-3343 if your kids are struggling with addictions or other serious issues!