How to choose the right boot camp for your troubled teen

Choosing a boot camp boarding school seems like a huge task. Understanding the different offerings of various programs and approaches can be overwhelming. Conflicting philosophies are difficult to understand. Learn some of the characteristics of a good boot camp and find out how to decide which boot camp is right for your troubled teen. Sending a child to boot camp boarding school is a difficult decision, deciding which school to choose shouldn’t be. Each boot camp boarding school has redeeming characteristics and there’s enough differences between each program that when you look analytically (beyond the pictures of smiling kids on the website) you can decide which features are the most important for your family.If you have a teen with a tendency to avoid making decisions, lazy, blames others for everything, “forgets” things that are important and has an overall passive-aggressive way of acting out, you might want to consider a facility with a mandatory attendance policy. Some kids thrive in a relaxed environment where participation is optional, but not these kids. They assume that they can just cruise through life, avoiding everyone and driving people away with occasional angry outbursts. A mandatory attendance policy helps these kids realize that in the real world, participation isn’t optional. If you’ve ever found yourself saying “You can’t just skate through life” then a program like this might be best for your teen.

When kids first start acting out, usually in adolescence, many parents tell themselves “He’s just not being challenged” or even “She’s really smart and she’s bored.” A program that recognizes that quite often, this is true will do more for bringing out the potential in these gifted kids than anything else. Dealing with deviant behavior directly, while simultaneously holding fast to high one-on-one academic expectations allows these kids to switch the train tracks from using attention-getting behavior to express their boredom. Often, kids with ADD and ADHD are bored with traditional classroom teaching methods which rely upon repetitiveness and sedentary activity. Putting these kids in an environment with one-on-one teaching ensures that they progress at their own speed (always faster than parents realize is possible) and honors their physical needs to expel a lot of energy, whether they’re swimming, hiking, building things or working out in an exercise facility, helps these kids learn to direct their energies when appropriate and regain their confidence in learning and in their own mind.

Programs that focus on developing character virtues help teens realize that their actions affect the people around them. Living in a communal environment, where people depend upon one another, can teach kids to communicate respectfully and to be responsible for their own actions. For a lot of troubled teens, they have no idea that the negative habits they’re using at home will serve them negatively in the real world. One reason is because they’re not treating their friends with disrespect, they’re treating their parents that way. Putting them in an environment where their friends depend upon their attitude and personal habits gives them a little taste of life in a society where they are equal to the people they’re living with, like in a college dorm or marriage. If your teen is treating you with disrespect, and choosing his lazy, irresponsible friends, then putting him in an environment with friends and room mates who require responsibility to function, you can be sure he’ll learn to pick up his socks!

Comparing the academic, therapeutic and counseling philosophies of each boarding school option can help you decide which boot camp to send your child to. Most boot camp boarding schools will put everything on their website, so that parents can make an informed decision. Look for academic accreditation, a staff of experts with experience dealing with developmental difficulties, deviant behaviors, and eating disorders. Check their program descriptions to see if it looks like they can meet your child’s needs. See if they offer a consultation, or an assessment. Find out if they offer financing or scholarships. See if they have testimonials from happy graduates. Choosing a boot camp boarding school can be one of the most important gifts you ever give your family.

Here are additional resources you might be interested in:

Choosing a teen boot camp for boys

Choosing a teen boot camp for teenage girls