At Sundance Canyon Academy, we receive numerous emails from teenagers who realize that they need more structure in their life. They understand that their current school won’t help them meet their goals, and they want something more. We are writing on this topic to help parents understand the difference between a military school and a therapeutic boarding school.
Teenagers have a reputation for being unruly or lackadaisical. They might not care about their schoolwork, or they might not follow through with their responsibilities. They might experiment with drugs and alcohol or start engaging in reckless teenage behavior. As a parent, you are probably prepared to see some of these traits in your child at some point. You might also be dreading the days when you have to address those behaviors.
If your kid participates in activities that are not allowed in your home, or if he just isn’t living up to his responsibilities, you need to intervene. Leaving the behavior unchecked will only lead to more significant problems down the road.
Thankfully, kids who realize that they need to change their behavior have a better chance of successfully changing it than kids who see no problem with what they’re doing. If your son wants to go to a military school, he’s on the right track. It means that he realizes that his behavior needs to improve and that he needs to change his overall mentality. There might be better solutions for your son, but he’s at a great starting point.
Is military school the right call?
Some kids want to go to military school because they like the idea of it. It’s structured. There will be plenty of physical activity. They will still complete their high school credits and graduate. They know that they’ll have to straighten up and develop some responsibility. However, they likely haven’t thought through all of the other alternative school options.
Many troubled teens who struggle with traditional school benefit more from a therapeutic boarding school than from a military school. While military schools provide structure, they don’t always teach students how to set that structure for themselves. Students are expected to adhere to the school standards, but they don’t learn much about self-regulation. An adult is always there to enforce the rules, so the students just learn to follow the rules.
Military schools can be a great fit for kids who already regulate themselves well and want to prepare for a life in the military. If your son is looking for a school to help him get back on the right track, a military school might not be a great fit.
Is a therapeutic boarding school the right call?
While attending a therapeutic boarding school, students attend traditional high school classes along with life skills classes. They also get the chance to participate in a variety of extracurricular activities to expand their horizons. Though the students are held to high expectations, they also get some say in deciding their schedule.
On top of their daily classes, students also meet with trained therapists for individual and group counseling sessions. These sessions are designed to help students learn to set and achieve long-term goals. As students distinguish the relationship between their actions and their goals, they learn to decrease activities that hinder their progress and increase activities that get them closer to their goals.
Students who are struggling with particular mental health issues attend therapy sessions geared toward that specific issue. Many students choose to attend a therapeutic boarding school to overcome issues with substance abuse, depression, anxiety, and more. Students who have trouble following the rules at home learn why they want to break the rules and how to start following them.
If your son knows that he wants to change his behavior and is open to accepting help, consider sending him to a therapeutic boarding school. Though a military school might seem appealing initially, it might not address the root of his problems. Yes, he would still learn how to follow a set schedule and stop breaking the rules. However, he would not get the added benefit of learning to moderate his behavior without strict adult intervention.
For more information about Sundance Canyon Academy, call us at 866-640-1899.