Parents struggle to decide whether a boarding school is right for their child. They need to evaluate if their child’s behavior has moved beyond “normal” and if it now requires a structured, full-time, professional approach. They will also need to investigate exactly how a boarding school can help their son. These challenges intimidate many concerned parents.
Definition of a Therapeutic Boarding School
Some boarding schools focus on troubled teens, yet not all are designed to address every behavioral issue.
Therapeutic boarding schools focus on treating emotional, behavioral, substance abuse or learning disabilities. They address the whole child, usually in a rural environment.
These institutions, sometimes called alternative schools or behavior modification facilities, specialize in changing negative behavior. Students live there for the entire school year as they work on improving all areas of their lives. The facilities differ on how much parental contact is allowed during this time.
Parental responsibility is taken on by counselors, teachers and other staff. The campus includes dorms for the students’ living quarters, bedrooms, study areas, a dining facility, a library, a chapel and recreation room. The most effective schools will include a holistic approach that addresses most if not all of the following areas:
Weighing the Negatives and Positives
The benefits make boarding schools a viable option, but the negatives carry weight as well.
Sending a child away can make them feel abandoned.
Judgement from friends and family.
Horror stories because of the unregulated schools and
Parental Support – Most schools work together with parents’ input.
Balance – Help balance work and play, build this skill for post-treatment life.
Focus on learning – Remove social distractions and facilitate learning at child’s individual pace.
Therapy – Reach individual solutions based on root causes.
Individual care – Personalized attention on each student instead of using the herd mentality.
Parents must make a specific decision for their son based on his need, not just on negatives and positives. If other interventions might help your son, try those options first.
Reviewing Final Straw Moments before Sending Your Son to a Therapeutic Boarding School
To determine the need for sending a child to a boarding school, consider if the child’s behavior threatens himself or others. Emotional threats matter as much as physical threats. Some indicators that a child is an unsafe threat include:
Truancy and school failure
Attachment and relationship troubles
Lack of motivation
Chronic lying and manipulation
Sense of unwarranted entitlement
Out of control emotions, such as rage
Promiscuity or sexual addiction
Suicidal behavior and
Some of these indicators alone do not indicate the need for a therapeutic boarding a child, but a combination of the above factors might warrant further examination of your options. The more signs, the higher the danger. If a child is showing suicidal, criminal, substance abuse, or violent behaviors, the need becomes more imminent.