My name is Mallory and I am in my second year of the Child Studies Degree at Mount Royal University. In my placement, which is in a community group home I have noticed an increase in the amount of burnout my co-workers have been experiencing. Some have had to take significant time off from work. I was interested in hearing from others what you find most commonly leads you to burnout (workload, arguments with kids, or other issues) and what you do to combat burnout either preventative or after the fact. I also was wondering what you would suggest in terms of lending support to staff members that appear to be burnt out.
I also wonder about the effect of age of staff on burnout as a fellow coworker and I had been talking about how we were barely older than the youth (we are both 22) we are working with and yet are expected to fill such a big role in these youths lives. We have found that the youth we are working with don’t have much respect for us, which leads to us not having any authority. Therefore the youth won’t do anything we say and ignore us when we ask them to do something. Most recently they have taken to telling us “what are you going to do about it” when asked to complete tasks such as chores. Honestly there is not much we can do about it except to continue to ask them as we don’t want to use bribes to get them to complete work that is part of the house rules. Does our own youth as staff lead to more issues with youth due to them not seeing us as an authority figure?
Thanks in advance I look forward to your responses.
You might like to take a look at these previous discussion threads about burn out — Eds. :
Have a look at my thesis, "Residential Child and Youth Care Workers' Perspectives of Job Stress and Knowledge of Interventions," Mount Saint Vincent University, 2016.
I share my own perspectives, as a CYC-P with over twenty years in the field. I experienced the symptoms of burnout twice requiring medical leave. One of my challenges was my level of expectation for myself, team members and the youth/families I was working with. Lack of training and awareness for self care practices and I suspect low levels of social and emotional intelligence. I do not think that there is a one answer fits all, individuals need to be aware of the holistic influences that lead to burnout including self which will always make for unique strengths and challenges.
I do believe that your newness to the field plays a large role in what you are experiencing. As a new CYCC you are learning the skills of relational practice and moving through the stages of staff development. When you are able to understand that there is a progression of developmental growth for staff you may be less likely to internalize these types of challenges and more likely to have a theory that you can attach to this stage of your career. I would suggest observing staff people who are more advanced in their career development to see how they interact with youth, talk with them and generate some ideas. Just try to remember it is not your age as much as your stage.
Hope that helps a bit.