Parents of often jokingly threaten “I’ll send you to boot camp” But when it’s no longer a joke, and deviant behavior becomes destructive and dangerous to the teen, their siblings or the community, suddenly we’re wondering “Is this the best way to discipline a troubled teen?” The fact is, discipline and punishment aren’t interlinked. Instead of looking at discipline as “something parents do” look upon it as a state of being; “She is disciplined,” instead. Discipline can be the result of punishment when kids decide “Hmmm, I don’t want to do that again or I’ll get caught.” Or it can be the result of a decision based upon something more positive, like “Hmmm, I don’t want to engage in that behavior because I respect myself and that won’t help me get the results I want from life.” Ultimately, a person whose decisions are based upon positive life decisions will be more disciplined than a person who is driven by “fear of getting caught.”
Instead of viewing a teen boot camp as a punishment, look at it as an opportunity to get a fresh start. Without being immersed in the day to day bump and grind of family living, teens can surround themselves with their peers in a community living structure that reinforces personal responsibility and encourages positive decision making. As an alternative to the punitive world of punishments and rewards, teens are empowered to be a better person, to share their gifts and talents and discover who they are deep inside. Does this change naughty behavior? Definitely.
One thing characteristic of any reputable teen boot camp is plenty of time spent outdoors. Teens have an enormous amount of energy that simply can not be burned off playing video games, sitting at the computer, or in a desk. Opportunities to spend time out-of-doors hiking and fishing can help kids connect with their peaceful inner self. Burning off excess energy frees their mind, and allows them to see their life situation from a more objective point of view. Immersed in hormones and life stresses, teens often don’t understand the power that their decisions are having in regards to their future. Feeling powerless can result in making bad decisions.
Another thing that makes teen boot camps effective for creating inner discipline, is the orderly schedule. Adults, who have trained themselves to handle flexibility and bounce back from unexpected things often fail to realize that for teens, who are trying to maintain a level of control over their lives, an unexpected change in the family can feel like chaos. For teens with ADD, ADHD, depression or ODD, chaos in the family results in acting out. An orderly schedule that never changes, and the predictable patterns of everyday life in a boarding school allow these kids the opportunity to lay down their defenses and begin to cope with emotional issues in healthy ways, instead of waiting until the next opportunity to blow off steam.
If your teen is engaging in deviant behavior, endangering themselves and others, consider looking into a boot camp boarding school, and instead of feeling like you’re punishing, understand that inner discipline is a gift, for everyone involved. You can make a positive change in your family by realizing that a teen boot camp environment is a healthy place for kids to learn to make better decisions, and to greet their potential with a smile.
Here are additional resources you might be interested in:
Are teen bootcamps useful for problem teenagers?
How to find and select the right boot camp for your teenager