Having your son come home after attending a residential treatment center for troubled teens can leave you feeling a range of emotions. From feeling excited to have your son home to worried that his good behavior isn’t permanent, preparing for your teenage son’s return can leave you feeling off-balance.
Luckily, you don’t have to navigate your kid’s return without help. For one thing, your son’s residential treatment center provides an aftercare plan. And, with your active support and assistance, your son can transition from a therapeutic environment and back into the regular world successfully.
Help The Transition By Following Aftercare Plan
The goal of residential treatment centers like Sundance Canyon Academy is to help teenage boys successfully rejoin their families and lead fulfilling lives. This objective can be incredibly difficult to achieve if teens leave the supportive and therapeutic environment cultivated at a residential treatment center and go directly back into everyday life.
That’s not to say that these teens can’t be successful. But it is a lot like learning the theory of driving a car and operating a vehicle on a closed course. Success is far easier in a safe, controlled environment like that. That’s why young, learning drivers start driving with more experienced drivers on quiet residential roads and work up from there.
You are your teen’s older and wiser driver when it comes to going from residential treatment and back to the busy and rough roads that your son needs to navigate. Treatment centers like Sundance will provide both you and your son with an aftercare plan—a road map if you will—to help both of you navigate through the transition. This map can make providing the right level of “life driving” help.
Some of the usual recommendations made when it comes to aftercare plans are to keep your son attending therapy and to use any current medication. With the help of a therapist, your son will have the kind of help they have gotten used to while in treatment. As for the medication, it is always best not to take children off medication without the help and say-so of a licensed practitioner.
Talk With Your Teen About What They Learned
Along with the aftercare plan from the residential treatment center, you can work with your teen to help them take control of their life again. An effective way to help your son take positive steps forward is by talking with him about what he has learned while attending residential treatment.
Your son may initially be hesitant when it comes to what he learned, as he may not be sure that you really want to hear about it. It is important that you draw your son out and help him understand that what he learned can be directly applicable to his future.
Provide Structure For Your Teen
As you draw your son out, an important part of his transition back home will require you to provide him with a certain amount of structure.
While attending a residential treatment center, your son has become accustomed to a highly structured lifestyle, making it essential that you carry over at least some of that structure. That way, your son doesn’t end up feeling adrift and finds his way into trouble.
Instead, some excellent ways to implement structure—without making your son resent it—is by involving him in activities that will help give your teen a positive framework of how to spend his time. Some activities you may want to consider are:
Sports that emphasis teamwork
Hobbies that have local group meetups
A daily chore schedule
Regular family activities like evening walks and dinner together
Volunteering with local charities
Create Goals Together That Your Son Can Work Toward
Another essential part of helping your son ease back into home life is to help him create effective goals to work toward. The old saying goes, “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop” isn’t too far off the mark, especially if you have a formerly troubled teen on your hands.
It is easy to fall back into bad habits when there is nothing else to occupy the time. So, instead of letting your son find something less positive to fill his time, you can work with him to create positive goals for him to work toward.
For instance, say your son graduated while attending Sundance Canyon Academy. Rather than leaving him to try and figure out the next step on his own, talk to him about what he wants to do with his life. You may have to break it down more into interests and work from there, as it can be overwhelming to consider what to do for the rest of your life as a teen.
But the goals should be staggered so that there is always the next step to achieve. So, if your teen wants to attend college, there should also be goals to get an internship and other goals that work as stepping stones.
Take Backsliding Into Account
While it is essential to focus on the positive when it comes to your teen’s transition home, it is also important to acknowledge that backsliding is likely. How severe the backslide into poor behavior can be mitigated by following the aftercare, taking the steps we outlined above, and being prepared for your son to struggle with his transition home.
You don’t have to take your son backsliding as proof that he’ll never change. Instead, remember that he is likely to test the boundaries and have tough days where your son won’t be at his best. If you work through these days and are emotionally as well as mentally prepared for a bit of backsliding, you can help your son effectively deal with poor behaviors.
With the right preparation and commitment to your son’s residential treatment center aftercare plan, you can help your son transition successfully back into living at home.