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Holiday programs for troubled teenagers

As parents battle their way through the minefield that is their teenager growing up, they may occasionally wish for respite from the war. There are days when even the most tolerant parent feels like giving up and running away to Mexico! They may look at the family, sitting at the table, teenager moaning, parents trying to talk brightly and cheerfully; smaller children looking anxious, waiting for the next argument, and the parents may wonder what this parenting lark is all about.

The real concerns that the younger siblings of a defiant teenager will grow up imitating this behavior, and the worry that the teenager will never grow out of it, are all valid feelings for parents to have in the circumstances. When parents reach this point in their relationship with their teenager, they may truly be running out of energy to deal with the problems they face and will be close to giving up. They may have threatened the teenager with dire consequences the next time the parent has to deal with one of their delinquent incidents or their school calls the parent in yet again.

At this stage, the parents, and the family need a break. The teenager needs to know, that enough is enough and they need to be removed from their family environment for everybody's sake. Many parents feel an overwhelming guilt at the thought of sending their teenager away, which is why a holiday program can be such a life saver. If the parents can hang on long enough till a vacation time comes round, they can send their teenager away to a camp for troubled or defiant teens, for some behavior modification therapy.

It will depend on just how bad and disruptive the teenagers' behavior has become, as to the choice of camp, and also its effectiveness. The summer is the obvious vacation for this kind of intervention, long enough to make an impact and at a good time to enable the teenager to make a fresh start at the beginning of the semester. Summer camps range from activity based to wilderness, to targeted camps for specific problems.

The parents need to do some work with the school counselor and their teens' therapist to select the right program. Few summer camps will turn around all of the teens problems, so parents need to focus on the major issues; are they behavioral, emotional, or academic or life skills issues or is it about the teens' total lack of discipline? Whatever camp they choose; they are giving their teen a chance to change and the family a much needed break.

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