Deciding to send their struggling teenager to a therapeutic boarding school is a tough decision for any parent. After making that tough decision, parents want to be sure that their teens are successful when their children return home.
Here at Help Your Teen Now, we have talked to parents at all stages of their journeys with their troubled teenagers. We often have parents express their concerns that even after attending a therapeutic boarding school, parents worry that their teens will fall back into bad habits. If this is one of your worries, we wanted to tell you what we tell other parents we have helped.
Teens Returning Home Do Go Through Adjustments
One thing that parents need to prepare for is that their teens returning home will go through a period of adjustment. This adjustment period can be tough on everyone—the family isn’t used to having the teen home, and your teen isn’t used to their home environment anymore. That doesn’t necessarily mean something negative. However, it can cause difficulties if parents aren’t prepared.
While at a therapeutic boarding school, your teen became accustomed to a highly-structured schedule, clear discipline, and expectations. The transition from a structured environment to one where your teen may not know what is and isn’t allowed can be difficult on them.
Parents don’t need to try and replicate the same structure—which isn’t as realistic outside of the controlled setting of a boarding school. But providing their teen with structure and understanding that an adjustment period is normal can help both parents and their teenagers’ transition to living together again more smoothly.
How Parents Can Support Their Teens After Attending A Therapeutic Boarding School
Rather than attempt to reproduce the same environment that your teen had a therapeutic boarding school, you can still help support them in making good choices without needing to be overly strict.
Encourage physical activity – Teens need positive outlets for their energy and to help reduce stress levels as they return home to a place where they have previously struggled. By encouraging physical activity, you can help your teen find good ways to engage with others and release positive natural hormones. These sports can be attached to their school or a local league or gym.
Continue therapy and medication – If your teen was taking medication while attending a therapeutic boarding school, it is best if they continue. Some medications can be dangerous to quit without an overseeing physician. Also, continuing with therapy when your teen returns home can help your teen as they run into adjustments and difficulties. That way, your teen has some familiar and safe outlets to discuss their issues with, rather than regressing.
Re-enroll in school – For teenagers who are still grade school-aged, re-enrolling in school is an important step. You may need to weigh the pros and cons of your teen returning to the same school where they likely struggled and have other teens you’d rather not have your child spend time with, versus sending your teen to a different school. If your teen has graduated from a therapeutic boarding school, help your teen explore their options—apprenticeship, vocational school, community college, university, etc.
Foster good communication – Your teen will have learned positive communication skills while attending a therapeutic boarding school. It is important that you work with your teen to keep those skills active and try to foster good communication. That may mean you need to set aside time just one-on-one with your teen, as well as setting up family time that fosters communication, like holding family dinner.
Help find new hobbies – With a new amount of freedom, your teen may feel like they are at loose ends. Rather than having your teen fill their days with video games and social media, you can help them find new hobbies to enjoy. Social hobbies, such as inventor workshops like Maker Studios or community theater, can help give your teen new outlets and a way to make more positive friends.
Help Your Teen Now Is Still Here For You
Whether you need advice concerning what therapeutic boarding school is right for your teen or need support after your teen has returned home, we hope you know you can contact us. As parent advocates, we are here to help the whole family heal.