Are Teen Boot Camps a Good Choice?

Teen boot camp and military-style boarding schools are sometimes cited as an effective way to rectify negative behavior in teenagers and set them on the path towards becoming a responsible, independent young adult. However, although popularized by daytime talk shows, teen boot camps have a number of drawbacks that need to be addressed before you decide whether or not this is a smart option for your teen.

You might have limited contact with your child.

Military-style boarding schools often operate under the goal of instilling a sense of discipline and independence in teenagers. In keeping with this goal, some schools choose to limit students’ contact with the outside world. This often includes their families. If you worry about not having contact with your son or daughter during their stay, then perhaps you should find an option other than military-style boarding school or boot camp. And if you do opt for one of these programs, be sure to select one that allows you to check up on/ provide encouragement to your child.

It might not work.

Military-style boarding schools and boot camps operate under the mentality that the thing that disobedient or troubled teenagers need more than anything else is discipline. This may be true for some teenagers, but for others, this approach will be incredibly ineffective. For those teenagers suffering from emotional disorders like depression or an eating disorder, for example, a school built around the idea of discipline and intimidation is very unlikely to be effective as treatment. Military-style schools and boot camps aim to teach children obedience and responsibility, but many times, their method for doing so is to browbeat your son or daughter into submission and obedience. Intimidation tactics are effective for some students, of course (Otherwise, how would these schools stay in business?), but for others, these methods simply will not work. Teenagers who have defiance problems or issues with authority, for example, are unlikely to take the military-style school’s officials seriously. If the teen doesn’t obey you- the parent, the person who arguably has the most control over their life- what makes you think they’ll obey a complete stranger, someone who has, quite literally, no power over them? All in all, it’s important to remember this: Regardless of your teen’s behavior, they are still a child at heart. Teenagers may look like adults and may sometimes even act like it, but their emotions and judgment skills still have a long way to go. The intimidation and fear tactics employed by boot camps and military-style boarding schools are often not the smartest choice.

There are better options.

The good news is that there are alternatives to military-style boarding schools and boot camps. Therapeutic boarding schools and facilities use a much more balanced approach and are therefore highly successful. These facilities treat your teen as an individual. They recognize that while discipline and obedience are very important, they are not the only characteristics that matter in a young adult. These facilities balance discipline with love and obedience with freedom, and the result is a teenager who is obedient and respectful because they recognize the importance and value of being so. These types of boarding schools and programs treat your child with respect and provide them with support, while still applying guidelines, discipline, and treatment methods. Whatever you decide for your teen, be sure to research the facility thoroughly before making a choice. Troubled teen treatment options come in all forms- from Christian to non-affiliated and from military-style to therapy-oriented. ¬†Only you can decide what’s right for your child.

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