I was facing enormous challenges last year. I had escaped a domestic violence situation with my three kids, and we were on our own in a new place. My eighteen-month-old daughter, Lulu, wasn’t verbalizing, and she was tantrumming an extreme amount.
Early Intervention came to do an assessment and told me Lulu had selective mutism, meaning she was opting out of talking, and I should wait until she was 3 before doing anything. I wasn’t satisfied with that.
Thankfully, I had met Telva Rivera, from The Child Center’s Parent-Child Home Program, at a P.S. 111 fair of local CBOs [community-based organizations]. Telva had spoken about how PCHP works with families: a trained professional comes into the home with books and toys and provides guidance on supporting your child’s development. I said, ‘That’s what I need – sign me up!”
From the start, Telva elicited a big change in Lulu. Telva was amicable and over-articulated, speaking to Lulu not just clearly, but in a very organized way. She would bring a book or toy and say, “This book is Yellow and Yummy. Do you want to read Yellow and Yummy?” And she would guide Lulu to say, “Yes, I want to read Yellow and Yummy.”
I began to mirror what Telva was modeling and saw a vast improvement in Lulu’s relationship with me and with her two brothers. She was now saying more words than expected for her age!
But not all of the positive changes had to do with Lulu’s verbalizing. The Child Center has a truly holistic approach, and Telva’s assistance went beyond helping Lulu to talk; she looked at what else was going on, with Lulu and with our whole family.
With Lulu, she helped me discipline in a way that led to less frustration for us both – specifically, she helped me use redirecting as tool, and to hold Lulu accountable for her actions with consequences. I learned to not dwell on the negative, because if I did, Lulu would stay there. Instead, I could say, “I don’t like that choice, would you please do this” — and offer her an alternative.
For our whole family, Telva recommended The Child Center’s Woodside Clinic, where we got individual and family therapy. Our therapist helped me deal with my frustrations and be more consistent in my parenting; I can be a little flaky, but she helped me see how that bred inconsistency in my home, and how a few changes could improve that. She helped empower my kids with language skills to express their feelings, instead of having a tantrum.
We graduated from PCHP in the spring, and I left feeling confident that I have tools in my arsenal to deal with all sorts of challenges.
It’s not easy in the beginning to have someone come into your home, but Telva wasn’t judgmental; she didn’t come in wagging her finger. She just came with energy and a fresh pair of eyes, which was a great benefit, because sometimes you’re too close to something, and your frustration prohibits you from seeing the possible outcomes — all you see is the negative. But Telva helped me gain an understanding of Lulu that helped me parent her effectively. I don’t think I would have gotten there as quickly or fully without her.
I’m glad The Child Center helped me make changes — and to see that change was possible in the first place.