Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Sue Scheff: Wilderness Programs, Boot Camps - Think Twice

You have a teen that is driving you crazy.  You have a teen that is experimenting, if not using drugs on a regular basis.  You have teen that has changed peer groups - and not for the better.  You have a teen that has disengaged from the family.  You have a teen that is defiant, belligerent and can become violent.  You have a teen that doesn't appreciate all they have and all you have sacrificed for them?  You are at your wit's end!

Is it time to have an intervention?  What is best to insure that your teen gets back on a positive road to have that bright future you always wanted for them?

Let's review some choices to get help:


Wilderness Therapeutic Programs Short term program, short term results, usually zero academics, extremely expensive and as many teens state they have great experiences, it is usually never enough to make lasting positive changes.
  • The concept: Remove the kids from their comforts of home.  Get them to reflect on themselves from within. 
  • Thought:  Wouldn't it be wise to find one program that offers a well-rounded program including removing them from their comforts of home, offering them an education as well as encouraging them through enrichment programs?
Boot Camps:  Thankfully many have been closed in the state of Florida.  This in and of itself speaks volumes.  As parents see it as a way to punish their kids for their negative behavior, using punitive and primitive measures may cause more anger and resentment toward the person that placed them there.
  • The concept: Teach your child a lesson, and hope they learn to appreciate and respect you.
  • Thought:  Again, finding a sound program that offers positive enrichment, academics as well as trained personal to help determine where the negative behavior is stemming from.
Jail:  Is this ever a good option?  Not really, and although juvenile records are sealed, according to law enforcement, what happens when your teen applies for a job in their 20's and that record, although it doesn't state the charges, but is pinged by your teen being finger printed?  Did you consider the friends your teen will make in jail?
  • The Concept: Show your teen the consequences of breaking the law.  Hopefully scaring them straight so they turn around their behavior.
  • Thought: Get your teen the right help that instills positive reinforcement, continuing education and work on family conflict with an outside counselor.
Residential Therapy: Finally, a way to address negative behavior in a positive direction. Our teens need consistency in treatment.  Starting and finishing with the same therapist, structure and program that builds your teen back up to making the better choices.  Some parents are being convinced that using a short term program such as Wilderness Programs will prepare them for a residential program, however if you find the right program from the start, it serves the same purpose as a Wilderness Program (of course saving about $10K-20K at the same time).  Choosing a residential therapy program does remove your child from their comforts of their home.  It also gives them an opportunity to reflect and get back to basics.
  • Concept: It took longer than 6-8 weeks to get to the place your teen is at, it will take at least 6-9 months to get your child back.
  • Thought: Take your time and find the best program for you and your family both emotionally and financially.  Consider that short term programs are like band-aids - they do peal off fairly quickly.
With Lindsay Lohan at 24 years old going to jail, it will serve to sober her up, however the rehab is what will help her to remain sober. Sadly, this may all be a moot point since at 24 years old, she is considered an adult and can just go through the motions - after all, she is court appointed.
Don't wait for your teen to be over 18, get them help while you still have the ability and control.

For more information, visit www.helpyourteens.com.  In Broward, Dade and Palm Beach County there is also The Children's Trust that has local resources.

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