Boot Camps for Teens — Are They Appropriate for Your Boy?
With so many options, deciding among boot camps for teens is the second hardest decision; the hardest one is deciding you have to get help. How do you go about picking the right solution for your troubled boy?
Deciding Which Boot Camp for Your Teen is as Difficult as Deciding in the First Place that Your Teen May Need One
Do boot camps for teens really work? What do you do when your teenage boy has been acting out so much, and for so long? Can boot camps for troubled teens do any more than you do about changing his behavior? Asking for the right help brings on difficult decisions for a parent. With the variety of programs and behavior-changing styles it is often difficult to know where to ask for help, butthe first step is to begin letting go and sharing the problem.
Why would I need a boot camp for teens and do they really work?
There are no quick fixes when it comes to effective behavior modification. Those who work with troubled teens know that teens can be masters of manipulation and let you see exactly what you need to see so they can get what they want to go home. True change must come from motivation that is developed within.
The effectiveness of any program is time dependent
No one should expect permanent change to behavior to occur overnight. Real change is going to take time and it is going to cost. If the teen is returned too quickly, there is a greater risk that he will fall back into previous behavior patterns and may ultimately get returned to a corrective program. This is called recidivism. The shorter the stay, the higher the rate of recidivism.
Boot camps are not the solution for everyone
Boot camps for troubled teens do work, but any single method will not work for everyone. A military-style drill instructor may not find the level of success with an unmotivated teen who has a bad attitude that he might find with someone who has joined the military looking for a future. When that is the case, parents need to get some appropriate psychology working on their side if any behavior changes are to be expected.
Boot camps have a different basis than working ranches
The first boot camps for troubled teens started as alternative to jail and were run by the courts. Those early ones were free and the focus was on being an alternative correctional facility. Boot camps for teens were then, and are now, designed mainly as short-term, remedial facilities and teens rarely stay there long enough to effect a real, lasting change in behavior. Therefore, recidivism was too high.
Virtually all boot camps for teens are now run privately. Additionally, some teens who have suffered loud, yelling relationships do not respond well to the hazing nature of boot camps which is modeled on those of military basic training. Results are most often temporary because the child soon learns how to manipulate and modify his responses to the specific situation without lasting changes to basic behavior.
Working ranches provide for a better long-term solution than boot camps
Conditions such as Oppositional Defiant Behavior (ODD) do not respond well to the military training model as resistance is so high. ODD is rather common condition that is present in 10% of all teens and is often accompanied by other behavioral deficiencies.
Working ranches work well in these cases for several reasons:
- Psychological care—both individual and group therapies
- Responsibility for horses as part of equine therapy
- Residency is at least a full school year (10 months or more)
- Team work, essential to success, is necessary for ranch work
- Residents stay highly active but also productive
Strong parents admit when they need help and see their teen gets it
After examining the variables, and tailoring the specific needs for your son, hopefully you get a clearer picture of what must be done and when. Once you can see what the solution must be it gets much easier to know how and where to ask for help. Teen boot camps, military schools, and working ranches all work but they work differently for different people. At least now it is easier to know how to ask for help than it is sometimes to admit you need help.