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Tips for Bigs from Case Manger Heather

Here are a few tips from case manager Heather Hicks at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwestern Indiana. She shares that one of the most common frustrations Bigs share is that they sometimes feel like their Little is using them as a way to get out of the house. Or their Little constantly wants more “stuff” or longer outings.

Heather says to first remember that your Little’s world is probably much smaller than your own. Your plate may be full of friends, work, significant others, school, and lots of obligations. That isn’t the case with some of our Littles. While you can jump in the car and go DO something when you’re down or bored, they may not have any opportunity to escape or socialize.

Next, think about setting clear boundaries for outings, both for time AND money. Let your Little know well in advance how much time you have for that day and the total amount that you can spend. Set your alarm 30 minutes before you have to leave and remind them that it will soon be time to go. Consistency, consistency, consistency.

For new matches, it’s especially important to remember to slow down and make outings as affordable as possible. It’s easier to build up to larger, more expensive, time-consuming activities, than it is to start off with expensive, long activities and then need to shorten them. Children quickly learn what they are allowed to do, and when you set boundaries later, to them it feels like they’re losing out. And because they’re kids, they can’t always tell you that they’re mad, hurt, angry, or confused by your actions.

If you’re an established match and you find yourself needing to pull back, that’s OK! And honesty is always great. Talk to your Little about what YOU want your relationship to look like. It’s OK to say things like, “I love our friendship, but sometimes when you ask “what’s next” I feel like you’re more interested in doing the activity than being friends with me.” Always use “I” statements and never blame your Little for how you’re feeling.

And PLEASE talk to your case manager if that feels uncomfortable. Case managers may choose to do a “re-commitment meeting” where we sit down with you and your Little to set firmer ground rules. We can talk with your Little during a school visit to reinforce what you’ve told them.

While our kids are our #1 priority, every staff member at BBBSSWI wants YOU to have a good experience too!


If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a Big, visit

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