Problem Child

What’s a parent to do when they have a “problem child” who is now a teen and much bigger, stronger, and very controlling?

The “problem child” has now grown from the four-year-old that used to lie in the floor kicking and screaming until they got their own way into now being the young man or young lady who is still demanding and screaming. Now they have found their voice and have added colorful words to their vocabulary and have learned the skillful art of manipulating! Their intellect allows them to be more successful in managing the entire family and creating an environment where parents and siblings alike would prefer that they not even be present at times. Thus they gain their goal of separation from the family or an opportunity to be out of the house with their desired group of friends! What is a parent to do with the now grown “problem child”?

Many families have exhausted their efforts in family counseling, forcing their teen to accompany them to the therapist’s office for sessions only to find that their child is a non-participant. “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink,” now becomes a favorite quote from most of those teens objecting to the trips to the therapist’s office. They strive to show their own independence by being guarded or silent during those laborious therapeutic sessions. Parents are reaching for solutions to their problems relating to their teen who is now disengaged and rebellious. Therefore, we as parents, continue to try to find the right therapist, the right psychologist, or lastly, the appropriate psychiatrist who may be able to accurately diagnose and fix the “problem child”. The arduous task of making it all better is very taxing on the family, to say the least.

Once parents recognize the fact that their “problem child” is continuing to spiral out of control and will not engage in the family therapy, then they must sit down and begin to look for options outside of their home. That is when a parent will consider whether residential treatment is the answer for their “problem child”. Therapeutic residential programs have proven to be most effective with teens on the road to destruction. Those teens choosing to isolate from the family or participate in activity that is harmful to them must find themselves at a place where they can stop the madness and really begin to take a good look at themselves and who they have become. Being extracted from their home and peer group and moving into a safe environment offering counseling at a different level with activities that are wholesome and fun may be inviting to the same teen who has been the “problem child”. We, at Wolf Creek Academy, see it every day…….students arriving at our door, full of anger because of being sent away to therapeutic boarding school. Only then to see, in just a few short days, that same child begin to approach life from a different angle, allowing their guard to be down and begin to peel the layers off one at a time. As their issues are addressed and they begin to see themselves as who they really are in Christ, they begin to develop into a whole and happy person again.

The therapeutic boarding school environment gives the “problem child” an opportunity to become the young man or young lady that God has designed them to be. They find the love and support of their family, along with a host of staff who genuinely care for them to be refreshing and something that they will learn to embrace in just a short time. It can become a very positive experience for the entire family, especially for the teen who has felt that they were out of control and did not know how to stop the cycle.