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Okay, for my Introduction to social welfare class I have to do 22 hours of community service. I love children, so I decided to volunteer for a shelter for abused children. I'm not a very emotional person, or so I thought. But in the group of children I work with, there's one 8 year old that's always following me around. The other teachers that work there told me that he's never grown attached to any of the people that have gone to work in that organization. Anyways, so he's always drawing pictures for me (some are kinda scary) and today while I was reading him a book, he asked me. "Are you only working with me because you have to?" and I told him no, that it was my option to work with him, and that I enjoyed his company, then he asked me "are you leaving when you finish your hours like the other volunteers?" I didn't know what to tell him. I don't want to make him feel abandoned (once again) but there's no way I can fit any more community service into my schedule. next semester is almost starting, and my classes are all day! I really feel attached to this little boy, and I don't want to add to the trauma that he's been through. I just don't know how to go about keeping from getting too attached to the children I work for, and keeping them from getting to attached to me. I feel really bad for these kids. I was hoping somebody could give me some tips, advice, anything.

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Even though your hours will be limited, you can always try to drop a few things to him or spend time with him during the holidays, like little parties that the shelter might throw.


Sounds like this kid is very keen! Whatever you say to him, or whatever you do for him will leave in imprint in his memories, and will carry on all throughout his adulthood. The little token of affection that you give him will carry far...


It's nice to heart stories like yours. If I were you, I'd give him something meaningful...something encouraging and educational!


Try 1/2 things....


1. Something Symbolic like: A Dream Catcher- Tell him to put it under his pillow, and when he dreams, all the bad dreams will disappear and his wishes will come true. Kids like mysterious things. It will give him hope, especially if he's been abused. Everytime he puts that dreamcatcher under his pillow, he will think of you and your positive influence.


2. Take him somewhere meaningful: Like a children's museum; tell him that education will take you far in life, and that you can be whatever you want to be...


Kids a very smart. Every word that you say to them has so much power of influence over them! They will carry your words of wisdom in their hearts.


Hopefully when he gets older, her will want to contribute to helping other children, just like what you've done for him.


Last word of advice, do it from your heart, be creative with the little time that you have with him! Good Luck!

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The thing is - you can't avoid getting attached completely, and still be doing your job when it's a field like this. You can get used to the idea that goodbyes will happen - but when some of them don't pull at your heart, you're in the wrong field. You just have to accept that with the satisfaction and joy of being able to make a little bit of a difference, comes the pain that to make a difference to more than one or two, you've got to let go when the time comes. It will be hard, you will cry no few tears from time to time, but you'll learn to get the most out of knowing that you made a difference, a spot of hope, or a temporary shelter for no few people.


You can't avoid some attachment on the part of the children either - but the biggest mistake I see is underestimating just how much children can understand when given the chance - if you're honest and explain this is part of classes for you, so when you finish, you can help more children, and unfortunately this does mean you'll have to leave to take the rest of your classes - you'd be surprised at how well simple honest explanations go over. Most kids, especially ones in shelters, have had more than a fill of vague answers and placating designed to protect them.


Your care and concern are much to your credit, I'm impressed with the way you're considering the feelings of everyone involved - including yourself. If this is the field you're going into - they're going to get one heck of an asset - and I hope someone appreciates that!

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i agree with mahlina. the community service may be mandatory but the attachment is genuine. you dont have to sever ties when you complete your hours. the smallest things will mean the most to him, that he is thought about whether your presense is there or not. A card, remembering his birthday, a way for him to communicate back to you. youre not adopting a responsibility. you are gaining a friend. your friendship may be the key to build his character; his self-worth. be the difference in his life.

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