Exploring the Need for a Troubled Teen Program for Your Teen
A parent’s t-shirt proudly proclaims, “I survived the teenage years”. Indeed, embattled parents of teenagers often feel that the all the years leading up to the teenage years (including the sleepless nights and the terrible twos) are just a walk in the park.
But where do we draw the line between “normal” teenage angst and outright rebellion? How do you know whether your teen simply needs a firm parenting or much more – such as intervention from an experienced therapist or from a troubled teen program? How do you know if your child is struggling and needs more help?
Here are some things that you should look into to help you know whether you need to enroll your teen into a troubled teen wilderness camp or a similar program:
– Drastic changes to your child’s overall personality. This is not just about moodiness, a rising need for “space”, or testing the boundaries. There may be drastic changes in your teen’s personality, that, when left unchecked, may harm the teen and those around him. Some drastic changes include:
o Rebellious attitude and behavior. This is when your teen starts to exhibit outright defiance, not just to you but also to other persons of authority (i.e. his teacher, the principal or the police). He not only bends the rules from time to time but also habitually disobeys them, to the point that there is a constant conflict in your daily family life.
o Withdrawal from social interactions. Teens may normally feel the need for some “alone time”. However, when this is coupled with drastic change in sleeping patterns (sleeping all day or not sleeping at all), eating patterns, as well as noticeable changes in body weight and overall appearance, his withdrawal may indicate something more serious.
o Aggressive behavior. If the situation escalates from mere arguments into physical and verbal violence, the situation may call for outside help. Some indications also include stealing, destroying property and anger management issues. If your teen starts to physically hurt other family members, peers and even himself, it is also time to think about a troubled teen wilderness program.
o Risky and self-destructive behavior. If there are signs that your teen has been using and abusing prohibited substances and dangerous drugs such as cocaine and LSD, you need to make drastic measures to ensure his experimentation does not become addiction.
o Extreme mood swings. It is normal for kids to go through mood swings because of the physical changes in their body. However, if this involves unreasonable temper outbursts and threats to kill himself, this point to something that is more than the effect of normal teenage hormonal changes.
o Lies about money and his whereabouts. When he is unable to suitably explain mysterious disappearances and why he missed curfew or why he is always out of money, it is possible that there may be some drug abuse involved. The same is true when you experience mysterious disappearances of valuable property or money.
– You have tried other interventions and they did not work. You have tried everything you can think of – grounding your teen, imposing other restrictions and disciplinary sanctions and taking him to a counselor. However, all indications show that these efforts did not make any significant changes in your teen’s behavioral problems. Some times can be quite skillful in manipulating his way out of the interventions you have implemented and in hiding his problematic behavior.
– You feel that a change in environment is called for. The situation may be too toxic that the best thing is to give your teen a break away from the situation, and allow him to come back with a clean slate. You also do away with a lot of distractions
– the television, the Internet, his favorite computer games and having to deal with peer pressure. In addition, time away from the family gives your teen, you and other family members breathing space from the continually escalating conflicts in the home. Giving everyone the chance to step back can give the teen a chance to look at his behavior and the situation from a different perspective and you with more time to look into your teen’s struggles and how you can most effectively help him.
As parents, we are there to guide our children, especially during tough times. And sometimes we need some help from others who specialize in helping the teen in his journey of self-discovery. Our hope is that our teen will emerge from this journey as a confident adult who will make a positive mark in this world.