James Sr. became aware of Mary Rigg Neighborhood Center (MRNC) through a referral from his son’s, James, school. James Sr. would drop his son off to school bright and early in the morning due to his non-traditional work schedule. However, there were no morning activities available to expand James’ learning opportunities and he decided to turn to MRNC for help.
In 2017, James was a lively kindergarten student, full of constant energy and befriending everyone he crossed paths with. James was frequently the first child to arrive at MRNC’s Before School and greeted everyone with open arms. As James began to get acclimated to the program, the youth staff recognized a few challenging behaviors. James struggled with defiant behavior, a lack of emotional regulation, and impulsivity. Youth staff spoke to James Sr. about these behaviors. James Sr. shared with the youth staff that he is a single father and was open to further assistance regarding James’ behavior both at home and school. Youth staff and James Sr. worked together to create a behavior plan for James, which included connecting him to Tangram. Tangram is a partner of MRNC that facilitates social-emotional learning groups and cover topics such as self-regulation, emotional identification, mindfulness and character building.
James began participating in Tangram in the fall of 2018. He participated in weekly sessions for 6 weeks on self-control and emotional identification/regulation. Once those sessions ended, youth staff and James Sr. reconvened to explore additional opportunities. In 2019, James returned to Tangram to participate in a new 6-week session on making and keeping friends. Throughout James’ involvement with Tangram, youth staff noticed that James was able to verbalize his emotions and think through his reactions much better.
The most important thing MRNC staff noticed was James’ new ability to verbalize his emotions and think before acting. James is also familiar with emotional regulation techniques, such “High 5 Breathing,” and is able to implement practices he learns in the Tangram sessions.
James’ involvement with Tangram also opened communication with James Sr, who has shared that James talks about Tangram tools at home as well. James Sr. also feels that he is better supported since partnering with Tangram to manage challenging emotions and behavior and is comfortable discussing all aspects of James’ progress with the MRNC staff.