Seeing Your Troubled Teen Through School

*this is a guest post

Raising teenagers is a challenging assignment even in a perfect world, but when you’ve got a teen who is troubled, the challenge is doubled. We all want our kids to do well in school to prepare them for successful adult lives, but behavioral, mood, or social disorders make it difficult for them to excel in standard classroom settings. What do you do when nothing is getting through to your teen?Seeing Your Troubled Teen Through School

Your first thought may be that you want to try toughing it out on the premise that your teen will just grow out of it. Meanwhile, though, he or she is getting bad grades, being disruptive in school or elsewhere, and upsetting the family dynamic to the point that his or her behavior is affecting everyone else.

If you’ve talked to counselors, done some research, or talked to other parents in the same boat, you know that there are a wide number of other options for helping your teen and saving your own sanity in the process. There are short-term programs like boot camps and specialized summer camps, there are programs that your teen can participate in while living at home, and there are therapeutic boarding schools like Diamond Ranch Academy that combine classroom education with counseling and with recreational and group activities that bring troubled teens together in an environment that fosters the emotional and social skills needed for them to realize their full potential.

Within these formats, there are specialized programs that help teens cope with behavioral issues, learning disabilities, ADD/ADHD, autism spectrum disorders, addictions, eating disorders, and so on. Some programs are coed and some are only for boys or for girls. Some are wilderness programs, and some are faith-based.

In years past, a troubled teen was sent to military school for a hearty dose of tough love, and that was that. Today, finding a program or school for your teen can be a difficult and emotionally trying decision to make. Where do you start? Here are some guidelines that may help.

Trust Your Instincts

You may be reeling from the advice given to you by counselors, therapists, and doctors. But you know your child better than anyone else does. Professional resources are necessary and invaluable, but filter the information you gain from them through your knowledge of your child and what he or she responds to.

his is not to say you should ignore advice you don’t want to hear. And it’s not to say that your teen may not surprise you and blossom in a setting you never would have imagined. Keep an open mind, but if something doesn’t feel right, trust yourself first.

Don’t Let Your Teen Make the Decision

A teenager is usually not the best decision-maker in any case, but one who is having problems or who acts out is certainly not in a position to determine what’s best for himself. Don’t be moved by manipulation or guilt. This is tough on everyone, and you don’t want to be seen as the enemy, but don’t give up the reins because your teen is unhappy (or worse) at the prospect.

Seeing Your Troubled Teen Through SchoolDon’t Make These Common Mistakes

These are some of the mistakes that education consultant Lon Woodbury cautions against making when searching for schools and programs for what he calls struggling teens:

  • Choosing by location. It’s understandable that you might want to keep your teen close to home, but restricting your search to one area reduces your chances of finding the most appropriate program.
  • Choosing by price. Choosing a program based on price alone is a bad idea. As Woodbury says, “The most expensive residential school or program is the one that doesn’t work.”
  • Making the decision alone. The knowledge and experience of an appropriate professional is very important in determining the best therapeutic environment for your teen. In addition, one parent shouldn’t make the decision without the other.
  • Excluding the family. A child doesn’t grow to be a teenager in a vacuum. Look for a school or program that includes family participation.
  • Expecting results by a deadline. It will take as long as it takes. Overcoming challenges and setting up new behavior patterns is an individual thing.

For more information, resources are available at The American Psychological Association, the National Association of Social Workers, and the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists

*thank you for this guest post!

Add Your Comment

*