The age-old struggle between a parent’s desire for behavioral control and the teen’s desire for individuation is not going to end with a stay in a boot camp. However, boot camps for teens and other similar institutions have been successful in restoring balance and health to many youth who otherwise would have gone on to struggle unsuccessfully on their own.
Generally, parents can experience extreme stress through the unrelenting behaviors of their misbehaving kids. Some parents just want the problem to go away by itself. If you are reading about boot camps for teens, then your teen’s troubles will not just disappear by ignoring them. Some parents do not want their teen to have a record of attending a military school or a criminal one. Put that concern lower on your list of priorities. Instead, ask yourself what risks you will be allowing your child to take without intervention. What risks have there been and will there be to the individuals in the family?
Some parents are over-reacting to their teen’s efforts to break away from parental control on the path to become an adult. If this is the case, residential confinement is not the answer. Some teens think that they are already adults. Now if this is part of the problem, it bares further examination. The parents may find themselves caught in the crossfire between the teen, family, spouse, home, school, community, fear of legal complications, and the future. Sending your child to one of the boot camps for teens should always be the last resort, but with time, it may become the only option.
Visualize the mobile that hung over your child’s crib. If you or your child touched even only one of the pieces, the whole mobile was set swinging into motion. Now think about any group of people. If a radical change occurs, then many, if not all, of the people in that group are set into some type of motion. It is the same way with the family group. The incorrigible teen acts out, and the family-group responses are set into a very negative motion pattern. Choosing to avoid taking any action will not stop this movement within the family. The more time that passes, the family as a whole becomes more at risk. With this time passing away, the teen’s behaviors worsen. No one is left unscathed by the effects of the behaviors of the teen. It is only a matter of degree.
With different knowledge and the increased likelihood of personal insight, the teen may come to understand the need for change. This does not mean the teen now wants to change, nor does it mean that understanding is all that is required for success. This is only the beginning. In many of these sad cases, the teen believes either that his behaviors are ‘fine,’ or likes his or her ‘bad’ image. Human beings change when the pain of their consequences gets too fierce, or the reward of their behaviors is pleasing beyond measure. Unfortunately, being ‘bad’ is the ultimate pleasure for some youth. Choosing one of these boot camps for teens can give you the peace of mind that dozens of professional staff will be watching and helping you teen. Contrary to popular belief, it does take a village to raise a child all the way to adulthood.
Teens can easily wear down the parents at which time the teen returns to previously negative behaviors. Joining parenting support groups to hear the problems of other families and to talk over solutions is greatly helpful during this time. Teen behaviors change over time with structure, insight, desire, and constant support. The teen generally considers his support community to be the teen culture, and continuing to ‘hang’ with the same crowd. His allegiances have swung to lay with this group. Parents having been worn down by constant chaos surrounding their teen, grow unwilling to make changes. This makes looking into boot camps for teens a desirable option for stress relief. Do not use these programs to relieve your stress; use them as a change facilitator for your teen. Often parents want the teen to make all the changes. Destructive behaviors and the ‘bad boy’ image are usually deeply ingrained. The teen is often not capable of turning himself around. These individuals require long term structured environments including home and school. These are only a few of the difficulties that can affect the positive outcomes of behavioral change for the teen.
The likelihood of a teen making long-term behavioral change without major changes within the family structure is slim. Success requires changes within the teen, the teen culture, and the family system. Remember that mobile. When the teen returns home from the boot camp for teens that you have chosen, support, treatment, rehabilitation, community services, and a changed familial system are required in full force for any positive change to be sustained over time.