It’s not easy being a teenager these days. As if it ever really was. But take the pressures of social media and a world that’s changing so fast that even adults are sometimes thrown off kilter, and then add ADD/ADHD, a learning disability, a behavioral disorder, an addiction, or some other issue, and it’s no wonder that some kids can’t cope.
When life has become chaotic for the whole family and your teen seems to be hitting rock bottom, it may be time for your struggling teen to get a change of perspective in the fresh new environment of one of the residential facilities for troubled youth across the country. Not only do such facilities offer counseling and therapy targeted at specific problems, but they also teach essential life skills and give a teen the self-confidence for a successful entry into the real world.
Away from home and with other kids going through the same challenges, these are five things a teen at therapeutic boarding school learns to help him or her become an independent adult:
1. How to Make Good Decisions
Away from home, there are decisions that teens have to make on their own, and maybe for the first time in their lives. Avoidance and melt-downs aren’t an option, so they learn to confront and analyze unexpected situations as they occur.
They gain experience in gathering information, weighing the pros and cons of one choice or another, and coming to a logical conclusion. They make mistakes — we all do — but in the end they gain the self-confidence to know that there are multiple ways to solve a problem, and that they capable enough to use their own intelligence to work it out for themselves.
2. How to Stay Organized
Even for adults, juggling a busy life isn’t easy. Between what you have to do, what you want to do, and what spur of the moment obligations pop up, things can be confusing for the best of us. It can be especially challenging for teens who are used to multi-tasking to distraction and blithely leaving turmoil in their wakes.
From the simplest things like keeping track of their own shoes, to managing responsibilities and time itself, kids in a residential facility quickly realize that disorganization affects everyone, and responsible young adults are required to take accountability for their own actions.
3. How to Cooperate and Play Nice
Even without problematic issues to overcome, teenagers are notorious for being wrapped up in their own heads. Cooperating and compromising aren’t usually the first things on their minds. Empathy and understanding are other qualities that can also be in short supply when “I” is the center of the universe.
Many kids grow out of this phase and ultimately realize there are other people in the world, but some kids need to learn and practice the interpersonal skills that are critical as they make their way through school, get jobs, and become members of the community. Joining in creative activities and sports with peers at a residential facility requires collaboration and brings home the benefits of teamwork, while participating in group counseling encourages sensitivity and appreciation of what others may be going through.
4. How to Do the Practical Things
Kids at a residential facility have dorm chores and other obligations. And those responsibilities won’t wait for a more convenient time. Teens learn self-reliance and independence because there is no one else responsible for their actions and belongings. It’s easier for them to see the penalties of neglecting responsibilities when their peers are affected by irresponsibility. It’s a message they bring home and transfer to the rest of their life experience.
5. How to Think About the Future
Some troubled teens may have vague notions of what they’d like to be when they grow up, and some are so embroiled in their own problems that they haven’t looked beyond tomorrow, but the experiences they have at a residential facility can give them a fresh outlook and focus them on what lies ahead. Doing things on their own and working hard to overcome their challenges offers them every reason to be be confident in a future that is bright.