You’re probably at your wit’s end with your teen right now. Maybe they’re skipping school, drinking or experimenting with drugs, hanging out with the wrong crowd… you’re worried about your child but don’t know what to do.
Many parents are in the same position that you’re in right now. Although some of these behaviors could just be a phase that they’ll grow out of, it could be a more serious problem that requires special attention.
If so, you might’ve heard about boot camps for teens and how that can whip them into shape, help them be more respectful, and follow orders at home. You also might’ve thought about your child seeking professional therapy to get to the deeper root of their problems.
Both of these options are something to consider parents considering getting help for their teen, even right here in the Flower Mound area. But what are the differences between these two, and what are the pros and cons? Most importantly, which option can be the most beneficial or possibly harmful for your child?
Below we will list all the information you need to know about sending your child to a boot camp program vs. seeking therapy.
The Pros of Boot Camp
The biggest advantage is that boot camps teach self-control, responsibility, and respect for authority.
There are some troubled teens who will benefit from the intense structure and discipline. Teens involved in illegal activity who may be headed for a life of crime without intervention are some of the best candidates for boot camp.
It’s also an option to consider for an extremely defiant or rebellious teen who hasn’t succeeded in other programs.
Essentially, if your child is engaging in very dangerous behaviors, and other options you and your family have tried were not successful, boot camp can be a good option to help your teen understand their responsibilities and respect.
The Disadvantages to Boot Camp
However, there are many huge disadvantages to boot camp. One of the biggest is that these programs rely on military-like discipline, but generally, do not include therapeutic programs. They are not designed to deal with the underlying emotional or behavioral problems most troubled teens are struggling with.
About 1 in 5 young people suffer from a mental illness, making it fairly common for adolescents to suffer from depression, anxiety, PTSD, and other disorders. If your teen is diagnosed with a mental illness or you suspect that they might be, boot camp would not be the best option for them.
Also, teens who have experienced some sort of abuse in their life are not recommended to attend a boot camp program. For teens who have issues like this, it’s more beneficial for them to attend some sort of therapy to help them cope in a healthy way.
Boot camps are also short programs, and there is usually no after-program or transition home assistance offered. If your child has been acting up for a long time, a quick fix like boot camp where there is no after-care assistance available will not permanently change your child’s behavior. In many cases, teens who are sent to boot camp are on better behavior while they’re in the program, but go back to their previous behavior once they return home.
Even if your child has been engaging in criminal or dangerous behaviors and you don’t know what else to do, it’s important to note that numerous studies on programs for troubled teens in the criminal justice system have found that sending juveniles to a boot camp for teens doesn’t make them any less likely to continue to commit crimes in the future.
According to psychologist Margaret Bayer, there are three main reasons for this. First, teenagers want to be treated fairly and dislike anything that feels unjust. Many teens also reject imposed structure, and teenagers best respond to encouragement rather than strict discipline.
Although boot camp programs can work for some teens, there’s a lot of research out there that proves other options, like professional therapy, could be more beneficial.
The Benefits of a Therapeutic Approach
If boot camps usually isn’t effective for teens, what’s another option?
Basically, the brain gets good at whatever we practice. So, whatever your teen spends time doing, their brain will train to get better at that activity. If your child is sent to a boot camp, they’ll get really good following orders by drill sergeants, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll follow your orders back at home.
If your child were to attend daily therapy sessions at a residential treatment center, they would be learning how to cope in healthier ways and how to communicate about what they’re going through, instead of acting out. Many therapy programs also involve the families, which is important.
Once your teen spends time doing this regularly, there’s a much higher chance that they’ll be better behaved and will talk through their problems more instead of engaging in dangerous behavior.
Although this option is proven to be more beneficial, it’s not a quick fix like boot camp appears to be. You shouldn’t expect your teen to attend a few therapy sessions and see a complete change. Rewiring one’s brain to help them understand their negative thoughts and behaviors, learning healthy ways to cope and communicate can take a really long time, but it’s worth it to get your child back on the right track.
Bricolage Behavioral Health is Here for the Teens of Flower Mound, Texas
The staff here at Bricolage Behavioral Health does not want teen mental health to continue being swept under the rug.
We believe that the whole family gets stronger when their kids and adolescents have the best tools to live both functionally and happily, and we have unique assessment methods and counseling plans to make it happen for each individual family we work with.
Offering Partial Hospitalization, Intensive Outpatient Care (which can work around your son or daughter’s school schedule!), and aftercare plans, we want to bring out the inner resilience in your children and help your whole family.
Located on Long Prairie Road, near Firewheel Drive and the Montessori Rainbow School, and close one of Flower Mound’s large residential areas, we are convenient to reach out to.
So, don’t wait for your kids to spiral out of control. Talk to them. And then talk to us.
Call Bricolage Behavioral Health for a Mental Health Assessment for Your Child or Teen Today: 469-968-5700