It’s tough being a teenager these days. Not that it was ever easy. But the world is moving faster than ever, and influences flow in from all sides twenty-four hours a day, bombarding kids with more pressure than some of them can handle. Everything coming in from outside can lead to or exacerbate personal challenges a teen is experiencing, like ADD/ADHD, a learning disability, behavior or emotional disorders, addictions, or just raging hormones.
When it’s all too much, and a teenager’s grades are falling, he or she is being disruptive in class or at home, and not only the teen but the entire family is suffering, it may be time for a re-boot in the restorative environment of a therapeutic ranch where wide open spaces and fresh air combine with counseling and personalized instruction to set everything back on the right track and focus a teen on realizing his or her full potential.
Part of realizing that potential is learning the skills and gaining the confidence to become an independent adult. While the focus of a therapeutic ranch is to work through personal challenges with individualized and group counseling, the experience combines therapy with the opportunities to develop in these areas:
Cooperation and Compassion
Studying academic subjects is important, but developing interpersonal skills is also necessary. From the simple things like good manners to the more ephemeral concepts like compassion and empathy, learning how to have successful social relationships is key at every stage of life.
Getting along in school, the workplace, and the community at large all require knowing how to cooperate and collaborate, how to compromise gracefully, and how to communicate clearly and with respect no matter who they’re talking to.
In a therapeutic ranch setting with peers and adults, a teen learns to be confident when meeting new people, and gains practice in how to maintain relationships over time. As you know yourself, some people have a natural gift for it all, and some people have to apply themselves to it the way they’d study algebra.
If you’ve been helicoptering and taking care of every difficult issue for your teen, he or she hasn’t learned the essential skills of quick thinking and targeted problem solving. It takes more than learning how to dial 911. Kids need to know to take a deep breath, assess, and act on a situation instead of going off every which way when they’re faced with the unexpected.
To live in the world they have to know what to do if something breaks or doesn’t work or if something doesn’t go as planned. They also need to know how to behave and how to communicate with adult professionals in a law enforcement or medical setting. Maybe even more importantly, they need to know the difference between a minor problem and a crisis, and have the personal confidence to know they can handle things as they happen.
Somehow it’s become a mark of pride to be an extreme multi-tasker. But some teens try to perform a perpetual juggling act, missing or forgetting appointments, putting off or not doing homework, and leaving a wake of chaos for someone else to clean up.
Time needs organizing like everything else, and a therapeutic ranch will help a teen set good habits of time management and learn how to prioritize, make logical decisions, and take responsibility for his or her choices.
Many teens behave as if they think that money grows on trees. In a therapeutic ranch environment they have the opportunity to work and earn, learning the basics of budgeting, the importance of saving, and the value of a dollar.
They even come to realize how much more you appreciate money (or ranch credit) when you’ve earned it yourself and are accountable to yourself for how you spend it. These are skills that last a lifetime and form a foundation for a successful and independent adulthood.
Doing the Practical Stuff
Being away from home and having to do things for themselves but in a safe environment, teens learn real life skills. Dorm chores instill the basics of taking care of themselves and their surroundings, and it can be surprising how much more eagerly a teen will learn to do something if someone other than a parent is in charge.
Even while a teen is at home, here are some good suggestions on how to manage these issues and more.