There are a few strategies to minimize any family tension and make sure that all of your children understand what’s going on. All of them need to know that they are loved and valued even if your parenting approach is different for them.
Talk as a family
One of the biggest issues among families when sending a child to a therapeutic boarding school is communication. Your kids will all have assumptions about why you are making this decision. Their assumptions may be right, or they may be wrong. If you don’t specifically talk about it, though, your kids will automatically assume that all of their assumptions are correct.
Rather than living in a gray world of assumptions, bring their questions to light. By answering their questions, you remove some of the mystery about boarding school and make it less scary.
Prepare ahead of time
By preparing for the transition ahead of time, everyone in the family will have time to adjust to their new way of life. Make sure that everyone knows all of the big milestones to expect along the way.
When will your child be moving to their new boarding school?
Will the whole family help them move in, or will it be parents-only?
How often will your child get to come back home from school?
Will the family ever get to visit them at school?
Will your kids be able to exchange mail with their siblings?
Will they be able to talk over the phone at all?
How long will your child be attending the boarding school?
Again, by removing some of the mystery around the change, all of your children will feel less nervous about the transition.
Have individual conversations with your children
While it’s good to have whole-family discussions, it’s also important to have one-on-one conversations with all of your children. This gives you a chance to find out how they’re feeling about their sibling going to boarding school. Kids tend to get stressed out when there are big changes in the home, so they might need time to vent or ask questions.
You can expect that your children will feel a range of emotions. They might be sad that their sibling is leaving or feel scared for their sibling. They might be mad at you for sending their sibling away. They might be a little jealous that their sibling gets to go on an adventure, but they have to stay at home.
However, if their sibling has been causing issues in the home, they might be happy that they’ll be leaving for a little while. This could also make them feel guilty for being happy that their sibling is leaving.
Go into these conversations ready to listen and to be supportive. Remember that this change will likely be challenging for all of your kids. They need to know that you still love them and that you are still there for them.
Get professional help
Children who are really attached to the sibling who is leaving might have a tough time with the transition. Even if they understand your reasoning, they might feel distraught or betrayed. If any of your children are struggling with the change, you may need to get professional help for that child as well. Many kids benefit from seeing a therapist who can help them articulate their feelings and learn how to cope with change.
All of your children need to understand the reasoning behind sending one of them to a therapeutic boarding school. This will help them feel more secure moving forward and more resilient in the face of future changes. If you send one of your children to Sundance Canyon Academy and your other children are struggling with it, contact us for more specific advice on how to address the issue.