Walk the Walk, Talk the Talk

an African-American boy smiles big, showing a couple of missing teethWhen six-year-old Anthony arrived at Thornwell six months ago, he walked on the tips of his toes. That’s the way he learned to walk and had never been taught to take steps properly. Worse yet, Anthony grew up hearing foul language from his parents from the time he was an infant. When Anthony learned to talk, he cursed freely simply because he hadn’t been taught not to.

Life-Changing Moments

While a child’s first words and first steps are monumental moments for children and their parents, Anthony’s first experiences walking and talking have presented challenges because of his family situation. Three years ago, Anthony’s mother was put in jail. Since Anthony’s father wasn’t taking care of him, Anthony and his sister were placed in foster care. They were able to reunite with their mother after she was released, but were soon placed back in foster care: Anthony’s sister had been abused, and his father was murdered. Anthony actually looked on when it happened.

Unfortunately, the psychological trauma that Anthony had experienced proved to be too much for his foster parents. If anything upset Anthony, he threw uncontrollable tantrums and cried inconsolably for an hour or more. Anthony was released from foster care after four months and came to Thornwell.

Anthony Takes the Right Steps

And he has grown by leaps and bounds in the short time he’s been at Thornwell. When his family teachers first tried to help Anthony with his walking, his feet hurt if he tried to walk properly because he was accustomed to walking on his tiptoes. His family teachers have corrected his walking posture by incorporating stretching exercises while practicing walking properly.

Anthony has learned to control his temper and use appropriate language too. One day when he got on the bus, Anthony greeted one of his friends with a very bad word. When he got off the bus, he told his family teachers that he got in trouble for saying a bad word on the bus. He apologized but he got upset when his family teachers told him the consequence for using inappropriate language. He didn’t realize why he was getting in trouble. He walked to his room and came back to his family teachers when he calmed down.

Anthony slips up and uses inappropriate language from time to time, but his family teachers correct him in a way that he can learn from. Anthony has learned what appropriate language is by listening to his family teachers and the other children at Thornwell. He also works with a therapist to learn coping skills to calm himself down.

Check out the Teaching Family model page to learn more about the program Thornwell uses when caring for all children, including Anthony. Want to read another story about how Thornwell helps children and families? View the Real Stories page.

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