When there’s a teenager in the house, the home environment can become a virtual war zone. Parents do everything they can to support their child and establish appropriate rules and boundaries, but give up when their attempts repeatedly fail. Teenagers who don’t feel heard or understood then become angry or withdrawn, and may even turn to negative peer groups, drugs and alcohol, and other troubling behaviors to get their needs met. Like their parents, they have given up, deciding it’s just not possible to have a healthy, mutually beneficial relationship.
But life with a teenager doesn’t have to be riddled with conflict. Parenting is one of the most difficult jobs, yet comes with the least amount of training. That’s where parent effectiveness training comes in. According to Carol Nalin, who has provided this type of training to families in crisis for more than 15 years, with guidance and practice, parents and teens can learn more effective communication skills and truly begin to relate to and understand one another.
What Is Parent Effectiveness Training?
Parent effectiveness training was one of the first parenting classes ever created. Since its inception in 1962 by award-winning psychologist and three-time Nobel Peace Prize Nominee Dr. Thomas Gordon, the program has been utilized by thousands of families struggling with parent-child conflict.
The message of parent effectiveness training is that parents and teens can learn to work with each other instead of against each other, resulting in less anger, fewer power struggles, more problem-solving and personal responsibility, and greater willingness to comply with the rules. Parents learn to listen to their teen so she feels genuinely cared for and understood, and to speak in a way that encourages the teen to listen. In short, parent effectiveness training is one way to bring peace back into your household.
Wondering if summer camp is right for your child? Whether your teen is into sports, adventure activities, music, drama, science, or just likes to have fun, there is a camp that is perfect for you. Specialized programs also abound, including special needs summer camps, weight-loss summer camps, and wilderness camps for teens struggling in school or at home.
There are so many great reasons to send children and teens to camp. The following is just a taste of what’s in store for your teen at summer camp:
1. Fun and Lifelong Memories. Ask any adult about their summer camp experiences as a child and you’re likely to get story after story about campfires, s’mores, jokes with friends, and exposure to all sorts of new activities from rock climbing and canoeing to hiking and water sports. There are many ways a teen can spend the summer – in school, working, hanging out with friends at home, or taking a summer vacation with the family – but summer camp is by far the most creative and enriching option available.
Most kids await summer camp with anticipation, excitement, and joy, knowing that the summer holds days filled with games, activities, and new experiences. Even teens who are reluctant to go to camp will usually look back fondly on their experience and everything they learned by spending a summer away from home. Almost a rite of passage, summer camp is an experience every kid should have at least once.
Teens are natural explorers. They seek adventure and thrills in many forms – some healthy (like summer camp) and some unhealthy, such as drugs and alcohol, parties, and law-breaking. Channeling these interests in positive directions by introducing the natural high of activities like rock climbing, white water rafting, and hiking and learning new skills that are useful later in life can put once-struggling teens back on track.
2. Confidence. Teens learn a specific set of skills at home and a separate set of skills at school. Summer camp opens doors to a whole new world of skill development, as teens are presented with new situations, relationships, and challenges. New experiences such as building a fire with a bow drill, finishing a long hike, resolving a disagreement with a fellow camper, and cooking meals over a campfire create opportunities for teens to build on small successes and feel good about their accomplishments. By the end of summer, campers are ready to return to school with improved leadership and social skills, and greater confidence in their own abilities.
A common course of treatment for teens who are struggling with emotional or behavioral issues is to enroll in a wilderness therapy program and immediately transition into a longer term residential treatment center. Although this tends to be the most effective strategy for families in crisis, it is also a costly one.
That’s why one well-known wilderness therapy program, SUWS of the Carolinas, has designed a shorter, more intense wilderness program for teens who will be moving on to long-term residential treatment. The new SUWS “Leader’s Way” 30-day program allows families to reduce the cost and length of treatment without sacrificing the many benefits of participating in a wilderness therapy program.
The Importance of a Smooth Transition
“When teens complete a wilderness therapy program before enrolling in residential treatment, they transition into the next stage ready to succeed,” says Melvin Cates, MA, LCCA, WEMT, a Program Director at SUWS. “They have already achieved some of their goals, established healthy relationships with staff and peers, and built on small successes, which translates into greater self-confidence, self-respect, and self-discipline.”
Because they know from day one the long-term plan for treatment, teens are less resistant and more motivated to succeed as they begin their residential treatment program. They also have an idea of what to expect in the next phase of treatment because they are accustomed to group activities, daily routines, and a structured schedule.
Knowing the long-term treatment plan in advance also helps the families of teens in SUWS’ 30-day program. “Rather than spending time in family therapy deciding what will happen when wilderness ends, the therapists are able to focus on communication, trust, and establishing stronger family bonds – all with minimal distractions,” says Cates.