Have things become so difficult with your teen that you’re considering sending him to a boot camp? You’re not alone.

Many people first find Empowering Parents and The Total Transformation® Program when they are searching the web or information on behavioral boot camps for teens.

It’s not unusual to reach the point where you consider sending your child away, especially when he starts to exhibit difficult behaviors that are hard to deal with. But I’d like to propose some alternatives that can work better for you and your child.

When You Feel Like Sending Your Child Away

Parents don’t just wake up in the morning and say, “I give up. My child needs to go to boot camp!” On the contrary, we have hopes for our children’s future. But sometimes, as parents, we get pulled very deeply into negative patterns. And we don’t know how to get out of the situation. Maybe your teen is caught up with friends who are a bad influence, and you feel his choices are out of your control.

Even if kids are sent away, they come home and need continued structure, rules, and increased and consistent expectations. Sustaining any gains requires ongoing work.

When you think you’ve tried everything and feel total desperation, you begin to believe that maybe someone else can do a better job. This idea provides relief for some parents who are dealing with constant negative attitudes and defiant behaviors. Parents then begin the search for programs to send their children to in hopes that time away from home will bring change.

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Indeed, some children need to be hospitalized for mental health issues, while others may seriously need to be in detention facilities for criminal behaviors, or need short-term family-focused residential programs. But not everyone requires this level of intervention.

Out of Home Placement is Difficult

Several years ago, when I worked in residential treatment, parents would show up at the administration building, child in tow, holding a suitcase and asking how they could leave their child in our care because what they were doing was clearly not working. As desperate as they felt, this wasn’t the way to get help. Instead, one of the social workers would sit down and try to give support and guidance with referrals to programs that could help the family work at home to make the necessary improvements.

It’s becoming more and more difficult to get children placed outside the home. Long-term residential placement is only available after everything else has been tried and failed. Laws and regulations in most states support families staying together rather than splitting apart. When children really need to leave home, there are systems in place requiring the school’s involvement and formal evaluations that rule out all other less intensive alternatives before out-of-home placement is even considered.

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Using Boot Camp Techniques and Structure at Home

Residential care has been primarily replaced by home-based services because the best and most sustained improvements are made in the home with the whole family’s involvement. In addition, long-term residential care is expensive, and funding for these types of programs is limited.

Boot camp is a type of residential care with a focus on behavior. Similarly, most boot camps aren’t set up to involve the family in making changes, and for many families, they are prohibitively expensive. Even if kids are sent away, they come home and need continued structure, rules, and increased and consistent expectations. Sustaining any gains requires ongoing work. As a result, many kids who attend boot camps fall back into their old routines when they return home.

Boot camps are based on some very helpful concepts that are of value in dealing with a seriously defiant child. Fortunately, you can replicate these concepts in your home. Here’s a look at how to do that.

1. Create Structure with Clear Expectations and Consequences

Even though you may feel overwhelmed and think that your child rejects structure, you can begin to set up a new structure for your child, with clearer expectations. This is exactly what boot camps will do.

Start with something you might be successful with. Also, instead of tackling every aspect of your teen’s defiant behavior all at once, try one thing, such as getting up on time for school. Create structure with clear expectations. For example, say to your child:

“If you want me to drive you to school, you will need to be up and ready to go by 7:30. If you aren’t, the car is not available, and you will have to take the bus. And if that happens more than twice this week, you’ll lose the car for the weekend.”

Once your child is able to follow this rule, add another expectation, and then keep building with a structure for each expectation and consequence. As you can see from this example, you have to structure the expectation so completely that there is no other feasible alternative but the behavior you’re looking for.

2. Remain Consistent

If they are nothing else, boot camps are consistent. The expectation is set, and the consequence is issued if the teen doesn’t comply. And it will be issued until there is compliance. Consistency is the aspect of parenting a defiant child that is often most frustrating for parents. When you pick the one thing to create structure around for your child, resolve to stay with it, no matter how much he pushes back. If you haven’t been consistent in the past, don’t beat yourself up about it. Simply start over now.

3. Expect Your Child to Succeed (and Tell Him So!)

Boot camps expect kids to succeed. Do the same for your child, even when things look bleak. Your child’s hopelessness leads to helplessness and defeat, but your encouragement and insistence on success can turn that around. Take the time to recognize the small successes, point them out to your teen, and build on each one.

4. Don’t Give Up

There will be setbacks. Your child will continue to test you and may fail miserably when you first start increasing expectations. Hang in there. Kids want their parents to do the right thing, no matter how conflicted your relationship has been.

Support is Available

We all have difficult times in our lives, with ups and downs, challenging children, conflicts with partners, alcoholism, drug abuse, or just everyday stress. It helps to stay open to seeking and using support from your community.

Most parents struggle with consistency and knowing how to build expectations in a sequential manner. You may want to start with the school, where there’s a whole support system that includes teachers, guidance counselors, and other school staff. Share your concerns with them and discuss what seems to be working and not working. Involve them in supporting the structure and expectations you have set up.

Remember that the school is not your enemy—but rather a support to you and your child. If your child is getting into criminal activity, work with the legal system. Find a support person who doesn’t judge you and is a good match with what you need. And, once you’ve found that support, let them help.

When we have problems with our kids, we tend to isolate ourselves and our families from our friends, or neighbors or community. This exacerbates the feeling that you’re the only “bad” parent, that all other families are perfect. You end up feeling like you’re the only one struggling. That’s why it’s important to open up to others and let them offer support. You may be surprised to find out that they have been through something similar. Just read some of the comments from parents on our articles and you will see that you are most definitely not alone in your struggle.

How the Total Transformation Can Help You

My husband (James Lehman) and I saw these issues in the work we did with children and families every day, and we recognized that parents needed more tools in order to parent their children responsibly. Thus, The Total Transformation® Program was developed. There’s a reason that people all over the world use the program, and that parents are able to go from deep frustration to lasting positive changes in their families. It shows parents how to set up a structure with expectations, responsibilities, and consequences. For many, it has been an alternative to sending their child away.

In addition to the work you do at home, there is parent coaching available to you from our parenting experts. They can become your own support systems. The Empowering Parents website can become another community of support for you and your family. Read our articles, the parent comments, and take advantage of our Personal Parenting Plan.

I’m not saying that the work is easy, but I am convinced that with support and direction, you will be able to make the positive changes you’re looking for. And isn’t it worth trying this before you send your child away?

Related Content:
Your Defiant Child’s Behavior: What You Can—and Can’t—Control as a Parent
Teenage Boot Camps, Wilderness Programs and Military Schools: Are They Effective?

Empowering Parents Podcast:
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Janet Lehman, MSW, has worked with troubled children and teens for over 30 years. A veteran social worker, she specializes in child behavior issues — ranging from anger management and oppositional defiance to more serious criminal behavior in teens. She is co-creator of The Total Transformation® Program, The Complete Guide To Consequences™, Getting Through To Your Child™, and Two Parents One Plan™.

Comments (84)
  • Diana
    I am a 55yr old grandmother that has custody of 4 grandkids. I have had them for 4 yrs. The oldest is 16yrs old and she is out of control and beyond disrespectful to the point she cusses and me and my daughter. The only reason it has not gottenMore physical is because I walk away. She has ran away from home and just basically thinks she can do whatever she wants regardless of the rules I have in place. It has gotten to the point that my 14 yr old grandson is now acting out as well. I still have a 12 yr old and an 11 yr old to raise and I am already so very very tired and drained. I cannot go on like this anymore. Sending her away was my very very last option but at this point I feel I have no other choice.
  • Raquel
    So I have a 15 year old son. He has been in and out of trouble for the past 3 years but ever since he started high school it’s been bigger thing. We seem to always find him with vapes once with weed or things he shouldn’t have. We drugMore test him randomly and tell him what we expect from him. At home he is a very respectful teen but it’s when he goes to school that he always seems to get into trouble. Of course he always blames it on his friends but we have caught him with many things he shouldn’t have and are constantly giving him consequences but he seems to be at the point where he does not care about the consequence’s. I’m getting to the point where I don’t know what to do anymore. And what can help him he seems to always do bad when at school.
  • Please help
    I am a single mom of two my Son who is 11 years old has no respect for absolutely anyone. he does not listen at home or at school and just started in school therapy. I feel that I’m at my breaking point and just don’t know what toMore do anymore. He thinks everything is a joke and thinks everything is funny. I hate to say that he is exactly like his dad because his dad is currently now in prison.. someone please advise me on what to do
  • Ossie patton
    The article stresses that boot camp is a residential placement for children that parents feel they have failed their children but the facility focus on behaviors, set expectations and consequences and the home can work on these same kind of support. It teaches patents to create structures with clear expectationsMore and consequences we need to start with something the child can be successful with then try one task at a time. Always remain consistent as the expectation is set and the consequences and stick to it. Parents has to express success to their child, encourage and insist success even if the smallest success it needs to be pointed out by the parent. Never give on the child; although the child test the patents but parent needs to stand firm. Parent no need to isolate themselves from support groups or individuals because parents feels ashamed when their child doesn’t do well or follow protocols, but parents never give up
  • Tired of trying
    I read so many of these articles and can't help but think that these suggestions are the ones I was trying 6, 8, 10 years ago. My 15 year old has been verbally abusive of my disabled wife, his 7 year old brother, and my aged parents that live inMore the home, for years. Now he has been physically abusive, has been in the court system, on probation, well known by the police, etc. But he has learned to play the game, and stop just short of what will get him taken away when they come - and to him it is a game. He is a tormentor who shows no human feeling toward others, or remorse for his actions, let alone someone for whom you can expect to care about not getting his cell phone back (an example, he does not possess one) or being grounded from the car (would never let him drive it, hasn't stolen it yet but it is only a matter of time). Yet, the police tell us the juvenile detention centers are too full around here, so they leave him here. So 5 people live in constant fear of death threats and physical violence, with seemingly nothing that anyone can do about it.
    • Upper Midwest mom
      I’d love to hear a solution to this situation As well.
  • Yvonne
    My kids just don't listen to me at all feel like hitting my head off a wall some times thay the wall think fight all the time is there any tips plz
    • Rebecca Wolfenden, Parent Coach
      It can be so frustrating when it feels like, no matter what you do, your kids will not listen and follow directions. I hear you. As outlined in Arguing With Your Child? Five Things You Shouldn’t Do, part of changing this pattern with your kids is changingMore how you respond. For example, instead of engaging in an argument with your kids about what they should be doing, simply state your expectation and walk away from the argument. If they follow through, great! If not, then you can give them a consequence and talk about what they will do differently next time when things are relatively calmer. Please be sure to write back and let us know how things are going for you and your family. Take care.
  • Kay
    I really need tips on how to get my children to be obedient im a single parent with four disobedient kids who just run all over on me. I really feel down and that i can't come around other people because my children do not obey me and it's reallyMore embarrassing to take them in public or ever around my boyfriend
    • Rebecca Wolfenden, Parent Coach
      We hear from many families struggling with defiance and disobedience, and the shame and embarrassment which comes along with those behaviors, so you are not alone in this situation. It tends to be most effective to pick one behavior to focus on, rather than trying to change everything atMore once. This helps you to be more consistent and effective in how you respond to inappropriate behavior, and helps to reduce feeling overwhelmed too. You might find our article, It’s Never Too Late: 7 Ways to Start Parenting More Effectively, helpful as you move forward. Please be sure to write back and let us know how things are going for you and your family. Take care.
  • Amy
    I have a 8 soon to be 9 year old who has an emotional impairment, he's in home based therapy but it just isn't working and I feel like I'm at my breaking point. I love both my kids with all my heart and it's killing me that I can'tMore help him. I do all of these things talked about in your article but when he goes to his dad's it all thrown out the window. I feel like that's another battle I can't win. How do you help someone when the other party doesn't put in the effort needed?
    • Rebecca Wolfenden, Parent Coach
      I hear you. It can be so challenging to co-parent when you are not on the same page with each other or feel as though your ex is undermining you when your kids are at his house. In all honesty, you can only control what happens whenMore your kids are with you in your home, and you are doing what you can to help your son. Kids are capable of understanding that there are different rules for different environments, so you can still be effective even if their dad has different rules from you. In addition, creating a culture of accountability is more about your individual relationship with your son, and how he behaves when he is in your home. I recognize how frustrating this situation must be for you, and I wish you all the best moving forward. Take care.
  • Paulinne B
    I have a 12 yr. Okd who is so outbof control. I do not know what to do. I believe the next step is physical contact. I need help. Before its to late.
    • Rebecca Wolfenden, Parent Coach
      We hear from many families who feel at their wit’s end with their child’s inappropriate, out of control behavior, and do not know what else to do. You are not alone in feeling this way. We do not recommend using physical force or punishments to address misbehavior, becauseMore it does not teach a child what to do differently in the future and may actually increase aggressive and otherwise inappropriate behavior. At this point, it could be useful to prioritize the issues you are facing, and to pick only the top one or two to focus on for right now. This can help you to feel more in control, and reduce feeling overwhelmed. You can find additional steps to take right now in “My Kid Will Never Change.” When You’ve Hit a Wall with Your Child’s Behavior and In Over Your Head? How to Improve Your Child’s Behavior and Regain Control as a Parent. I recognize what a difficult time this is for you right now, and I hope that you will write back and let us know how things are going for you and your family. Take care.
  • louise s
    I have a 12 year old daughter who is very controlling and has now started to use very bad language towards myself, my husband and her dad - she has smashed her phone up attacked myself refuses to do anything answers back all of the time. Her behaviour has gotMore to a point where she is out of control please help.
    • Rebecca Wolfenden, Parent Coach
      I’m so sorry to hear about the challenges you are facing with your daughter right now, and I’m glad that you are here reaching out for support. When parents are facing numerous inappropriate behaviors with their child, I often find that it can be helpful to focus on oneMore or two of the most difficult, rather than trying to address everything at once. Based on what you have shared, I recommend focusing first on her destructive and abusive behavior. You might find some helpful starting points in Is Your Defiant Child Damaging or Destroying Property? and My ODD Child is Physically Abusive to Siblings and Parents—Help! I recognize what a challenging situation this must be for you and your family, and I wish you all the best moving forward. Take care.
  • Michelle h
    I have 9 year old twin boys who have become very disrespectful and defiant and just unreasonable to deal with. I have to admit that I am not a patient parent and I don't have a clue on how to turn them around before it's too late. Help
    • Rebecca Wolfenden, Parent Coach
      I hear you. It can feel so overwhelming when you have kids who are out of control, and it can be difficult to know where to start, or what to do next. I’m glad that you are here reaching out for support, and I encourage you to keepMore in mind that it’s never too late to change your parenting if what you are doing is not working. Something that could be useful at this point might be to prioritize the behaviors you are seeing, and to only address the top one or two rather than try to change everything at once. You can find more advice in In Over Your Head? How to Improve Your Child’s Behavior and Regain Control as a Parent. Please be sure to check back and let us know how things are going for you and your family. Take care.
  • Betty M

    We are raising 1 Granddaughter and 1 Grandson since 12/2012 when their father died unexpectedly from food toxicity. They are 13 and 14 now. Our Granddaughter does excellent in school and helps with anything you ask does her chores right. Our Grandson (13) does excellent in school but at home he causes turmoil daily. He will not follow instructions at home. Always says he forgot but he would have done it. He likes to argue or debate about anything you tell him. We are 66 and 67. We love them with all our hearts. His constant arguing is driving us to the point we are stressed daily. He is very disrespectful.

    His sister(14) keeps telling us we need to quit letting him cause arguments and she doesn't like turmoil either. We punish him but he argues about why he getting punished. His Grandfather has bad habit (it is a nervous habit ) of laughing at our Grandson arguing and that doesn't help and he finally gets so upset and gives him the corner which only works while he is in the corner. At times he will even agrue about why he had to go to the corner when. I (Grandmother ) am so tried of being stressed to where I have heart palpations. Lost for words. Need help.


  • Tanya B
    My daughter acting out in school begin disrespectful to the teacher.I want to send her too a camp.I have no clue Can someone point me too the right person?
    • Rebecca Wolfenden, Parent Coach
      I hear you. It can be so challenging when a child starts acting out in school, and being disrespectful. While camps and other residential placements can be helpful resources, it’s also going to be useful to create change and accountability within your family and to work with herMore teacher to address your daughter’s behavior at school as mentioned in the above article. For ideas on how to do this, check out Acting Out in School: When Your Child is the Class Troublemaker. If you feel that additional outside support is needed for your daughter, you might consider contacting the 211 Helpline at 1-800-273-6222. 211 is a service which connects people with resources in their community, such as counseling, support groups and other locally available programs. Please be sure to write back and let us know how things are going for you and your family. Take care.
  • Ebony Melton
    Need help with my 9 year old son
  • Nick
    I need help with an uncontrolled child
  • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport
    Shewaa I hear your concern for your youngest son’s behavior, and how that is impacting the other members of the home.  I have no doubt that witnessing the violence and threats toward his siblings can be quite frightening.  I’m glad to see that you are using local supports to helpMore you address this behavior.  I encourage you to work with his therapist to https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/the-lost-children-when-behavior-problems-traumatize-siblings/ which you can use to ensure everyone’s safety when he has an outburst.  I also recognize that your ex is a factor here as well as the abusive way he treats you and the children during their visits.  Whenever you think a child is at risk of harm of any kind, it’s helpful to find someone to talk about it. We would encourage you to call https://www.childhelp.org/ to talk with a specially trained counselor about your concerns. You can reach them 24/7 at 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453). The counselors there can help you determine the best way to proceed in this situation. We wish you and your family luck with this. Take care.
  • MarilynSantana
    As for my safe is very hard my son is 7years old don't lean to me at all no more he get very mad there theys his me and he is little sister to I don't now wet to do no more is so hard I try my best ofMore everything please help me
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport
      MarilynSantana I’m sorry to hear about the issues you are facing with your son, and I’m glad that you are here reaching out for support.  It can be so difficult when kids get angry, and become aggressive toward parents and siblings.  While it is OK for your son to beMore mad, it’s not acceptable for him to hit you or his sister.  Part of changing this behavior will be setting firm limits around what is, and is not, appropriate for him to do when he is angry, as well as teaching him more appropriate coping skills when he is calm.  You might find additional information on this in https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/stop-aggressive-behavior-in-kids-and-tweens-is-your-child-screaming-pushing-and-hitting/  Please be sure to write back and let us know how things are going for you and your family.  Take care.
  • Monique333
    My nine year old is outta control I desperately need help. She hits me kicks me doesn't listen to what I say. I'm just lost.
    • MarilynSantana
      Try your best I have the some my son don't lean to me
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport
      Monique333 I’m sorry to hear about the challenges you are facing with your nine year old right now, and I’m glad that you are reaching out for support.  When feeling overwhelmed, it can often be helpful to pick one or two behaviors to focus on at one time, rather thanMore trying to address everything at once, as outlined in https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/in-over-your-head-how-to-improve-your-childs-behavior-and-regain-control-as-a-parent/.  Based on what you have shared, one place to start might be your daughter’s aggressive behavior toward you.  You might find some useful strategies in https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/stop-aggressive-behavior-in-kids-and-tweens-is-your-child-screaming-pushing-and-hitting/  I recognize what a difficult situation this must be for you right now, and I hope you will write back and let us know how things are going for both of you.  Take care.
  • Broken_in_Bama
    My 7 year old daughter has been diagnosed with Bipolar Explosive disorder, Oppositional Defiant disorder, ADHD, and disruptive mood disorder. My husband is a long-haul truck driver, and is only home about 40 days a year. My mother in law lives with us, which is actually fantastic sonce she hasMore dealt with these issues with all 3 of her children. But I am finally at my wits end. I am literally covered from head to toe in bruises, as her violent behavior just seems to be getting worse and spiraling completely out of control. She IS on medication, and she IS in therapy. Neither of which seem to be helping at all. I don't know what else to do anymore. I love my daughter with my whole heart. I just want my sweet loving baby girl back. I don't know how to handle this anymore.
  • Stressed in denver
    My daughter and 2 granddaughters live with us. My 7 year old granddaughter is out of control Ditch n class kicking and spitting in other kids faces stealing, she lies about everything. She has taken another little girls lunch and aye it in front of her. She steals from herMore mom me her grandpa really from anyone. I have tried grounding her time out spanking taking away privileges. Nothing has worked she is disrespectful rude don't listen to anyone. Is there any programs for children her age?? Please I need help!! Stressed out big time. Thanks.
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport
      Stressed in denver I hear your concern for your granddaughter’s behavior, and I’m glad that you are reaching out for assistance.  It’s understandable that you might be feeling at wits’ end right now.  When feeling overwhelmed, it’s often most effective to focus on one or two issues or behaviors atMore a time, rather than trying to address everything at once.  You might find some useful tips in our article https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/its-never-too-late-7-ways-to-start-parenting-more-effectively/ as you move forward with your family.  In addition, sometimes families find it helpful to work directly with local supports, such as a counselor, a parenting education class, a support group, and so on when they are trying to confront inappropriate behavior.  While I am not familiar with specific programs available in your area, you might try contacting the http://www.211.org at 1-800-273-6222.  211 is a service which connects people with resources available in their communities.  I recognize how difficult this must be for you right now, and I wish you and you family all the best moving forward.  Take care.
  • Supersurvivor

    My 12 year olds behaviour is getting worse & worse. Always been lying, stealing, extreme moods but more self centred & entitled now. She has had a traumatic life as I have but lacks empathy unless for her then turns on water works. She is addicted to screens as possibly I am. Since Sept been gradually worse & using my makeup til non left, borrowing money, using my debit card without consent, abusive to me, angry to me, manipulative etc Yesterday massive row as would not let go of my iPhone that I need for work to school & wanted to take it to school. Escalated a lot & I said will have to take off her, if does not give to me. I grabbed it & she lashed out & hit me violently so now am aching all over. After violent outburst she bursts into tears & big drama for her. I have never seen anything like it. Drains any energy I have. I have no support & limited finances. I think she may have conduct disorder, Tourette's, Poss ADHD. I am at wits end.

    I nearly call the police regularly also have problems with them but she says she will accuse me of things. I have spoken to school & she is getting counselling. I get no help from anywhere. I do not drink, smoke, take drugs, she is always shocking me or joking with me but I don't think can manage. We are multilingual at home. I am looking into selling my home & putting her into therapeutic boarding school as think this may be what she needs. Any help or advice welcome.

    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


      I’m sorry to hear about the challenges you are facing with

      your daughter, and I’m glad that you are here reaching out for support.You deserve to be safe from abuse and

      violence.If you are considering

      contacting the police for support with your daughter’s outbursts, I encourage you

      to call the non-emergency line during a calm time to outline how they might be

      able to help you in those moments.We

      have a https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/how-to-talk-to-police-when-your-child-is-physically-abusive/ you can use to guide this conversation as well.In addition, I do not recommend getting into https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/parenting-an-angry-explosive-teen-what-you-should-and-shouldnt-do/ with your daughter, because that often leads to situations

      escalating as you described.I recognize

      what a tough situation this must be for you, and I wish you all the best moving

      forward.Take care.

  • A worried mother
    I have an 11 year old daughter and she's totally out of control she thinks she's in control of everything and won't do anything she's told and lies to even get me in trouble for getting on to her about her behavior an how she treats me. I'm at theMore end of my rope with her nothing I do is working no kind of discipline I have tried has worked
  • luckylynn91
    Hello so I have a 6 year old almost 7 years and she steals lies and acts out really bad in school she has been beating up other students and throws their stuff everywhere she's had countless write ups and I've tried literally everything I can she does not listenMore to me or her teachers AT ALL!! I believe in military boot camp and was wondering if anyone knows where one is her attitude is just getting worse... Please feel free to contact me if you have any ideas where a camp is that's semi local to the Spokane Washington area  I need serious help with this.
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


      I hear how concerned you are about your daughter, and I’m

      glad that you are reaching out for support both here and in your

      community.  If you are interested in programs in your area, you can try

      contacting the http://www.211.org/ at

      1-800-273-6222.  211 is a service which connects people with resources in

      their community.  If you are interested primarily in a boot camp or other

      residential placement, you might also consider checking the https://natsap.org/Public/Default.aspx?hkey=3eb162c8-8572-48d6-a4b0-8f77303d1751&WebsiteKey=a6db6176-2e1f-4120-ad6e-c64e14a4337a for more information. 

      I recognize what a challenging situation this must be for you, and I wish you

      and your family all the best moving forward.

    • luckylynn91
      She will end up suspended or even expelled if I cannot figure something out.
  • Chelsea
    I have a six year old im at the end of ropes he don't listen to me he is very mean to his grandma my mom who is on hospice and he is always lieing and stealing stuff from me and his dad and he is always distorting stuff IMore don't know why he is acting like this our home is a very loving home what am I doing wrong I can't take it
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


      I hear you. 

      It can be very frustrating when your child is acting out inappropriately, and

      you don’t know why.  In general, we advise parents that a child’s

      inappropriate behavior is often linked to poor problem-solving skills. 

      Thus, it’s not that your son is a “bad” kid, or that you are doing anything

      wrong; he simply does not have skills to solve his problems in an effective

      way.  You can read more about this in our article, https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/the-surprising-reason-for-bad-child-behavior-i-cant-solve-problems/. 

      In addition, it’s not uncommon for young children to act out as a way to cope

      with strong emotions, such as anger, grief or fear.  You might consider

      consulting with the hospice social worker to see if there are any local

      resources available for children your son’s age who are experiencing this kind

      of loss.  I recognize that you are in a challenging situation right now

      between your son and your mom, and I hope that you will write back and let us

      know how you are doing.  Take care.

  • sunnymomof3

    I have a 16 year old son. His father passed away 4 years ago, suddenly. Two years after his father passed away, there was a school shooting. 5 of his classmates were killed. We have always struggled with him and school. He was diagnosed in elementary with ADD. He refuses to take medication, he doesn't like the side effects. And he is unwilling to try different medications to see which would be the best fit for him. We have done the counselling route. About a year ago for 8 months. I can't tell if it did any help. He hasn't passed any of his classes since the 6th grade. I agreed to let him try online school last year and he failed. He just started his second year and is once again failing. Overall he is a good kid. Not defiant and doesn't do drugs. I am at my wits end. All he does is sleep, eat and play xbox. He has two siblings, sisters 20 & 11. They both are doing well with school. 

    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


      I’m so sorry to

      hear about these events in your son’s life, and what he has had to experience

      at such a young age.  In addition, I hear your concern with your son’s

      performance in school, and how he continues to fail his classes.  As James

      Lehman points out in his article https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/why-you-should-let-your-child-fail-the-benefits-of-natural-consequences/,

      failure can be an opportunity to talk with your son about what is going on in

      his classes, and what he can do differently moving forward.  You also

      might consider linking completion of his online coursework for the day to

      earning time to play Xbox.  I recognize how challenging this must be for

      you, and I hope you will write back and let us know how things are going with

      you and your son. Take care.

  • Q
    I have a 14 year old. She is not really a bad kid but im getting very frustrated with her behavior lately. We moved from Michigan to Georgia. I have M.S. She constantly lies, she never owns up to the things she has done, its always someone elses fault, sheMore half does anythinf you tell her to do. Im ready to give her to a family mrmber and just walk away. Im tired of telling her about how hard the world is without an education and following in behind the wrong people. I was a speciak ed teacherbefore i got M.S. i have two masters degrees. So i now what hard work is and how it can pay off. Should i just give up sunce ahe thinks she knows everything and however she turns out will be her own fault? Im sooo frustrated and tired of repeating myself and her attitude towards things. We go to church. I dont know what else to do.
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


      I hear you. 

      It can be very frustrating when your child seems to take a completely different

      view of how the world works, and avoids responsibility for her actions. 

      It’s actually quite common for teens to do this as part of their development,

      and discovering their own identity in the world, as discussed in https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/i-love-my-child-but-sometimes-i-cant-stand-him/  Adolescence can be a

      trying time for most families, and I encourage you to make sure that you are

      taking care of yourself during this time too.  Please be sure to write

      back and let us know how things are going for you and your family. Take care.

  • Anan


    I have a 15 year old boy

    He is very smart our problem with him that's he wants to live his way making his own rules means he didn't want to follow our instruction in any thing he think that's he knows better than us

    Keep arguing with us all the time

    Causing problems at home with every body including the 5 year old brother

    Don't know what to do with him

    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


      Constant arguments

      and power struggles can be so exhausting, and I’m sorry to hear about the

      effect that your 15 year old’s behavior is having on other members of the

      household.  It’s quite common for many teenagers to desire complete

      independence, and to believe that they know better than their parents. 

      Arguing about the rules, or trying to convince him as to why they are needed,

      is likely to be ineffective.  The truth is, your son doesn’t have to agree

      with you about the rules; he does need to follow them, or face the consequences

      for them, as pointed out in https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/how-to-talk-to-teens-3-ways-to-get-your-teen-to-listen/.  Avoiding these

      power struggles as much as possible will help to reduce how often they happen

      in the future.  I recognize how difficult this has been for you and your

      family, and I hope that you will write back and let us know how things are

      going.  Take care.

  • Neni420
    My stepson is doing weed and we don't know how long his being doing it if can help me we don't want him to be addicted to the stuff or do worst thank you
    • Marissa EP


      I can hear how concerned you are about your stepson’s

      substance use and there are a number of things you can do to address the issue

      with him. Kim Abraham and Marnie Studaker-Cordner, authors of our Life Over the

      Influence program, offer some great tips to

      help you teen-proof your home and hold your stepson accountable when he breaks

      your rules around substance use, in their article, https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/my-child-is-using-drugs-or-drinking-alcohol-what-should-i-do/ This is a

      difficult subject for many families, and I wish you the best of luck as you

      continue to address it with your son.

  • Brett
    So I am at the end of my rope with my 10 yr old son and 9 yr old daughter. They are so disrespectful towards me and everyone else in the house. You ask them to do anything choirs go to bed stop fighting anything they pretty much tell youMore to screw off. They aren't doing it and they don't have to. And my 3 yr old is starting it too because he sees them doing it. I have done everything in my power to get it to stop but nothing is working. In ready to throw my hands up and walk away. I can't take it anymore. I need help before it's to late.
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


      I hear how

      frustrated you are with your kids’ behavior, and I’m glad that you are reaching

      out for support.  We speak with many parents who don’t know what else to

      do in the face of their children’s defiance and constant refusal to follow

      directions, so you are not alone.  Something we often advise parents to do

      is to prioritize the challenging behaviors, and pick only one or two to focus

      on at a time.  From there, you can develop a clear, consistent plan for

      how things will change.  Sara Bean offers more suggestions in her article,

      https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/in-over-your-head-how-to-improve-your-childs-behavior-and-regain-control-as-a-parent/.  Take care.

  • diana00
    my 14 year old is very bad with parents to the piont of hitting his parent is this the right place to send my grandkid?
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


      I’m sorry to hear about the issues you are facing with your

      grandchild.  I can hear how much you care about him, as well as his

      parents, and how much you want to help all of them.  The decision of

      whether to send a child to boot camp or another residential placement is a

      highly personal one which each family must make for themselves.  There are

      also other options available to address https://www.empoweringparents.com/article-categories/child-behavior-problems/abusive-violent-behavior/ such as the hitting you describe.  In addition to

      the articles, blogs, https://www.empoweringparents.com/shop/ and other resources offered on our website, you might

      consider contacting the http://www.211.org/ at

      1-800-273-6222 for information on available supports in your community, such as

      counseling and support groups.  I recognize how difficult this situation

      must be for you, and I wish you and your family all the best moving

      forward.  Take care.

  • Yahaira de Jesus
    I need to send my son to bootcamp this year. Can you help me
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport

      Yahaira de Jesus  

      We hear from many parents who are considering boot camp, or

      another residential placement, for their child, so you are not alone.  One

      resource which might be helpful for you is the National Association of Therapeutic

      School and Programs.  They have additional information on accredited

      programs, as well as resources for parents who are considering a boot camp for

      a child.  You can go to https://www.natsap.org

      for more information, or call 301-986-8770.  Thank you for your

      question; take care.

  • AmiBMama
    Hello everyone I would like some advice, I have a 5 year old boy who is a very smart and out going who is going to be starting kindergarten next week. My issue is that there is times where he acts like a baby and fights with his 2 yearMore old sister and acts like he doesn't even know his name like if he's clueless and forgot everything he's learned in one day. He is being very awkward and not talking and not listening. He is beginning to cause problems with his stepdad and I (his stepdad has fathered him since 10 months old) His biological father has been in his life in and out since he was born but stopped coming around at the age of 3 1/2 despite the fact he pays child support and also took me to court to fight for legal custody. He never calls or visits and my son never bothers asking about him either because he doesn't remember him or doesn't want to talk about it. My son has also suffered a lot of trauma due to the fact that I use to live with my alcoholic parents that would constantly verbally, emotionally, and physically abuse me. I honestly don't know if this has all caused an impact in my sons life at 5 years old but I just want him to be a normal talkative boy not a baby that acts like he's 2 years old. Thank you for your time....
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


      It’s quite common

      for many young children who are starting school to revert back to more

      “babyish” behaviors, so you are not alone there.  This is often a way that

      they are trying to cope with the anxiety of starting a new experience, as Dr.

      Joan points out in https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/young-kids-and-back-to-school-anxiety-how-to-shrink-it-down-to-size/.  I’m

      also sorry to hear about all that you and your son have experienced.  If

      you are concerned that these events might be having an impact on his current

      behavior, it could be helpful to consult with his doctor.  Because his

      doctor has the benefit of directly

      observing and interacting with your son, s/he would be in a much better

      position to assess what might be going on,

      as well as offer referrals for follow-up as needed.  Please let us know if

      you have any additional questions.  Take care.

  • lestertrujillo
    Hi I have a 13 year old daughter with problems how can I send her to u guys
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


      Thank you for reaching out to us.  We are a site which

      is devoted to helping people become more effective parents with their children

      in the home.  As such, we do not work directly with children who are

      exhibiting behavioral issues.  Instead, we offer expert articles,

      parenting blogs, and programs for in-home use, so you can practice behavior

      modification techniques directly with your daughter.  You can find more

      information on our available parenting programs by clicking https://www.empoweringparents.com/shop/.  Please let us

      know if you have any additional questions.  Take care.

  • Jill
    Hi, I have an 8 yr old son with anger outburst and over reacts to things that he shouldnt. And I mean to things he may ask you to do and you choose not to do , at the moment! Very bizarre. He has always been impulsive and has aMore hard time focusing. He has received early intervention , with speech and OT since he was 18 months old. Speech was initially for a feeding issue but we discovered he was delayed a bit. He has been in an ICT class since Kindergarten and continues with speech and OT. While he works very hard in school and looks to please his teachers, etc. , and I get great reports on behavior, he is completely different at home. He hits me and will hit his dad when he's angry. We have worked with phychologists in the past and will start with another soon and we're working with a neorologist. He is on medication right now to help him with focusing and anger outburst. I know meds are not the fix all and it's difficult to find the right one but I'm at the end of my rope. I'm mentally exhausted and pyhsically exhausted . I was told my son's behavior is not typical because he does well at school, behavior wise. He's going into 4th and we're going to work with a tutor this summer, because he is behind. I was told by the neorologist that he is not ADHD across the board because he manages it better at school . She feels he doesn't understand social cues. I'm at a loss! I too wanted to send him to military camp. But know it's not that easy. The neurologist believes we should maintain a rigid schedule , with consistent rules and consequences. This is where I get lost. What consequence do I give for hitting? Everything has failed! I know there is a problem at home that makes things worse. Meaning, the dynamics at home mixed with his "issues" makes life so incredibly exhausting , not to mention, our relationships not as they should be. Any help, would be greatly appreciated:)
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


      It can be very

      challenging when you have a child with behavioral issues, and I’m glad that you

      are reaching out for support.  It sounds like you are working with numerous

      professionals right now to help you with your son’s behavior, and it could be

      useful to talk with them about specific schedules and consequences which might

      be a good fit for your son and his needs, as well as being realistic for your

      family as a whole.  We also have numerous articles and other resources

      here on Empowering Parents which address many of the issues you noted: ADHD,

      anger, outbursts, aggression, parental consistency and so on.  Here are

      two suggestions which you might find helpful to read next: https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/angel-child-or-devil-child-when-kids-save-their-bad-behavior-for-you/ and https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/good-behavior-is-not-magic-its-a-skill-the-3-skills-every-child-needs-for-good-behavior/.  You are not alone in facing this type of behavior from your

      son, and I hope you will write back and let us know how things are going for

      you and your family.  Take care.

  • Denise Vonada
    My son is violent against myself and my elderly parents. He refuses to do anything we ask of him. He also abuses the dog. He plays video games all afternoon and night while sleeping all day. We can't control him and boot camp will help him andMore us.
  • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


    Sibling rivalry is

    a common phenomenon which occurs in most families with more than one

    child.  Sometimes, when there is one child who requires more attention

    from a parent due to a factor such as a diagnosis or disability, this rivalry

    and jealousy can increase and intensify.  While jealousy and competition

    are normal among siblings, this does not mean that you are powerless to address

    it.  As Carole Banks points out in her article, https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/sibling-rivalry-good-kid-vs-bad-kid/, something that can be helpful in a situation

    like this is to make sure that you are recognizing when your son is behaving

    appropriately toward his sister, as well as providing opportunities to him to

    receive your undivided attention.  Thank you for writing in.  Please

    be sure to let us know if you have any additional questions.

  • TArnold
    My son is 11 years old and my daughter is 10 years old. I had to fight to get custody back of my kids and have had them home almost 2 years this Oct. All they want to do is back talk, argue, yell and scream. They refuse to doMore chores and care for their pets that they wanted. They blame me whrn they dont have clean clothes when i have a set laundry schudle put where they can see it. They won't listen to me at all then they call my folks and then I get a lecture from them saying I'm being to hard on them. I have taken all their electronics away as they lost the privilege. I don't know what to do any more please help.
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


      I hear you. 

      It can be so difficult when it feels as though arguing and fighting are the

      main ways you communicate with your kids.  As Janet Lehman suggests in her

      article, https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/how-to-get-kids-to-do-chores-without-an-argument/, it can be useful to pick one

      task to focus on at a time, and plan how you will respond differently instead

      of engaging in arguments with them.  In addition, rather than taking away

      privileges indefinitely, it could be more effective to allow your kids to earn

      time with electronics daily once their chore is complete. Thank you for writing

      in; please be sure to write back and let us know how things are going for you

      and your family.  Take care.

  • AprilHelms
    My 14 year old son all the sudden don't want to go to school he ditches all the time now I get a letter in the mail saying the law will get involved cause all his truances I explained all this to him and still not listening I have triedMore everything and nothing seems to be working. I sit and talk with him and tell him I'm here to help him with anything but still nothing I'm worried don't know what else to do from here
  • brookeauten
    OK so I have a almost 4 year old who is way out of control a lot of are friends an family see it we have tried everything we can to disapline him he has gotten so bad he is starting to slapped an hit me with stuff an beMore mean to his siblings I don't know what to do anymore I need help!!!!
    • DeniseR_ParentalSupport


      It can be frustrating, and possibly even a bit embarrassing,

      when your young child lashes out at you when he’s angry. It may help to know

      that it’s actually fairly common for children your son’s age to hit, bite,

      kick, and exhibit other aggressive behaviors. Most children under the age of

      five lack frustration tolerance. They also have limited coping mechanisms, so,

      when they get upset, angry or frustrated, they may act out aggressively. Some

      of this behavior will decrease on it’s own as your son grows and matures. There

      are things you can do in the meantime. Dr. Joan Simeo Munson offers some useful

      tips in her article https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/hitting-biting-and-kicking-how-to-stop-aggressive-behavior-in-young-children/. I

      hope you find the information in the article helpful. Be sure to check back if

      you have any further questions. Take care.

  • ladyredhusker
    For the past several years my husband and I have been struggling with reining in our youngest son's behavior. He has a dual diagnosis of Aspergers and ADHD. He is on meds for the ADHD and it does help with his ability to focus, but he still cannot controlMore his impulsive behavior. He has a tendency to "steal" things that he desires and, while there is no malice behind the act, he is fully aware that the behavior is wrong. Since he knows that stealing is wrong, he will lie when we find items that he has stolen. We keep the routine at home as structured as possible and he is reminded frequently of the consequences. When he is discovered with stolen items, he loses a privilege each time he is caught out, if he is caught more than 3 times in a short time frame then he loses all privileges until his behavior shows that he can control the impulsive to steal or lie. Now here's the kicker, when he's completely without privileges, he eventually stops the stealing and lying, but as soon as he earns privileges back he resumes the stealing and lying. For as unwelcome as the stealing is, if it were kept just within the home it would be easier to correct, but he is stealing in school and has attempted to steal in the store. Aside from his penchant for collecting stolen goods and hoarding them, he has a tendency to steal items that are considered dangerous or costly (lighters, small weapons like pocketknives or needles, handheld gaming devices, cell phones). He has been suspended twice for bringing "weapons" to school (a souvenir belonging to his brother that was a small blade concealed in a faux bullet) and for stealing a cell phone from another student. If he was not on an IEP in school then he would have been expelled rather than suspended. He has been expelled from an elementary school for setting fire to paper towels in a trash can in the portables bathroom. We have tried behavior counseling, adjusting medications, positive reinforcements, negative consequences, and a host of other suggestions to try to resolve the problem behavior and, aside from very brief success, we keep coming up against a brick wall. We are unable to leave him unsupervised at home, and he can't be 100% supervised at school. Aside from the fact that his behavior is unwanted, it is also criminal and if it continues he will very likely face criminal charges for it at some point. We have contacted Boystown and they stated that he would benefit from residential treatment. Aside from the cost, we are reluctant to go that route because we are concerned that he may interpret that as us giving up on him which is the last thing we would do. We are just completely at a loss on how to get through to him to correct the behavior.
  • DeniseR_ParentalSupport


    You ask a question we often are asked by parents of acting

    out, defiant kids. Whether or not a boot camp would be beneficial isn’t

    something we can answer directly. As Janet explains in the article above, it

    will be useful to do a little research to determine if a boot camp would be a

    good fit for your child. You might find it helpful to check out the website http://www.natsap.org/ for information on therapeutic schools, wilderness programs, and

    boot camps. Another possible resource is the hospital where your daughter is

    being evaluated. I’m sure someone there would be able to give you information

    on local supports that could be of service to you and your family. In the

    meantime, you might find this article helpful: https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/my-childs-behavior-is-so-bad-where-do-i-begin-how-to-coach-your-child-forward/.

    We appreciate you writing in and sharing your story. Be sure to check back and

    let us know how things are going. Take care.

  • Kylanherron
    Is this milatery boot camp for kids
  • jodi potorski

    Dear Readers

    I am at the end of my rope with my 13 year old daughter. Three years ago my husband was shot and paralized in a home invasion. He spent the first three months in hospitals ...rehabs and a nursing home. He and my daughter were very close. He was the disciplinarian in the family. Now he lives in York in a handicapped apartment and my daughter and I live in Eliot..15minutes away. Needless to say the power of aurhority has shifted. She has been diagnosed with ADHD and I truly believe that she shows ALL the signs of ODD. I cant seem to get thru to her at all. School is like jail to her..so she says..Doesnt want to do her homework and when it is done its not passed in in time.(half credit) Wont clean her room or put her clean clothes away. Complains about doing chores..getting in shower She is just so irratible and moody all the time. She hardly smiles anymore.I still drive her to York. She spends Tues..Thur. Fri Sat..and Sun..with her dad and he sees the same behavior. He just recently said to me that I was never parent material..always say and do the wrong thing and feel even more useless now that im a parapelgic and dont want to see her grow up to be a loser and I wont..I unfortunately do believe him Needless to say I have no support from my husband of 10 years! I need some help or advice from someone. I have come to the conclusion that I am raising her on my own. I want to prove all those doubters out there that she will become a well adjusted successful happy member of society. So please anyone out there in my situation please any words of advise. I do not want to send her to boot camp but at this stage I feel its my only option.

  • JessicaWilliams6

    I have a child that has tested on the social side for autism spectrum, has ADHD and ODD.  I am a strict parent in regards to rules and guidelines and I get what I can control and what I can't.  As a parent with ODD who will follow through on consequence, I have a son who says...ok.  I will accept those consequences ie.  No TV(I have disabled it), No Computer (he broke it), nothing in his room(all packed up and locked away in storage outside of the house) and he still continues with the behavior.  The rules are pretty simple.  Do homework as getting an education is your job, and if you don't want to do that, go and look for work and do a "real" job and pay rent.  When that is done the sky is the limit, he is free to do what he wishes.   Those are the options available to him.  The option that is not available to him is to sit and watch TV all day, or play video games.  He is always late to school...no worries he will walk.  He always gets detention - no worries he will walk home.  He now gets suspensions - yeah....he gets to stay home from school - this is not a punishment for my child. I was at his school today saying no to the at home suspension, it does not work and is not effective.  He is almost 16 it is to the point where, if you don't participate in something productive you are not welcome in my home. I know it sounds harsh but I am a single parent that has a child that has no problem having destructive tantrums consistently, I am at the end of my rope.  

    I wish there was a boot camp, or a work camp for him.  He has no drive and I can't drive it for him, he has to find it him self.  But if it truly was all about natural consequences and follow through, I would not be pulling my hair out now.

  • brooke
    There is some great advice here, but sometimes you are just too idealistic.  For example, my kid would say, "Great, I guess I don't have to go to school then..." if I tried to implement the example you gave above.  Also, how does a single mom handle a son whoMore has gotten bigger and stronger than her?  and just flatly says No, when asked to do something?  In all your posts, I haven't seen the answer to that question!
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


      You ask a great

      question, and one that we receive quite frequently.  While many kids will

      follow through on changing their behavior when a specific plan is outlined,

      other kids will continue to be defiant and refuse to change.  As Kim

      Abraham and Marney Studaker-Cordner point out in their article, http://www.empoweringparents.com/5-things-you-can-and-cant-control-as-a-parent.php,

      you can only control yourself and your actions.  Thus, while you cannot

      “make” your son get up and go to school, you are ultimately in control of

      holding him accountable for his actions and choices, and working with local

      resources available to you.  For example, you could work with the school

      to let him experience the natural consequences of his actions, or coordinate

      with a truancy officer to create a plan to hold him accountable.  We also

      do not recommend getting into a physical power struggle with your child, as

      that can cause things to escalate to an unsafe level.  I recognize that

      many child behavioral issues do not have an easy, clear-cut solution, and I

      appreciate your question.  Please be sure to let us know if we can be of

      further assistance.  Take care.

  • LJWMomof2

    There is a huge difference between 'boot camp' and residential treatment. I'm not even sure that boot camps are around; many have been shut down due to abuses and lack of oversight over a decade ago. There ARE military schools, and there are therapeutic wilderness programs, and yes, there are residential treatment centers.

    As a parent with a defiant son whose troubles emanate largely from a (previously undiagnosed) autism spectrum disorder complicated by depression, there are times when all the structure in the home will not help him from himself. I greatly appreciate many of the wise and helpful posts from Empowering Parents, and have used many of the techniques and suggestions here. But this particular article is a bit too glib about helping your child at home safely and effectively. Most kids are not defiant as a a sole behavior or diagnosis--most kids are more complex. And most families require therapists, schools, and other professionals to help them with their complex child. In a world where 'parity' is a joke, where in-network therapists are booked for months, where schools are overwhelmed and unequipped to 'accommodate'  kids, and where law enforcement is often unhelpful in a crisis, the need for residential treatment is greater than ever. Residential treatment saved my son's life. And our family could not have made the changes we needed to make to keep him--and us--safe without the incredibly gifted and caring therapists and mentors we've worked with along the way.

    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport

      LJWMomof2 Here is a response from Janet Lehman:

      I appreciate your response to my article.  I agree with you that the philosophy behind residential

      treatment and boot camps is fundamentally different, but we have noted that parents

      who are searching for some kind of placement for their child outside of their

      home are simply looking for any and all options. They are often desperate and

      don’t really know what is out there and where to begin, or how to search for

      the right program or service for their child and family. Your child was lucky

      that you knew where to look and how to get help. It is clear to me that you are

      someone who was willing and able to pursue all avenues to meet the needs of

      your child. There are times when all of the resources within the home and

      community just aren’t enough and residential is your only option. It is good to

      hear that you feel so positive about the residential care your child has received.

      I worked in a wonderful residential treatment facility for

      over 20 years, and believe that this type of setting really works. But in the

      article, I did want to stress that it is often difficult to get your child into

      a residential placement due to changing laws, funding and regulations, and the

      focus on home-based and community based services.

      Because of limited resources for families facing serious

      problems with their kids with nowhere to turn, James and I developed the Total

      Transformation Program (TT). We encourage families using the TT to really go

      through the comprehensive program, but in conjunction with the program, to use

      as many resources as needed to stabilize your home - as you have done with your

      child. Empowering Parents also encourages parents to use as many and whatever

      program may work for your child – counseling, in home treatment, or

      residential placement if that is needed in order to calm a volatile situation

      and stabilize your child and your family.

      Thank you again for your well-stated and thoughtful

      response. I am glad to have you as one of our readers.

      • Pinkiejennifer
        Reading the article and hearing other people's comments. I'm so glad we are not alone!!Our 7 year old boy has always been hard since he was first born. He was diagnosed with severe ADHD/and PDD(pervasive developmental disorders) this has been hard, for not only him,but us. Anything sets him off!More Breaking things,recking his room, to name calling, to not being able to make friends, to pretty much getting kick out of school, hitting,slamming,just all together hard to manage. We lost friends due to his behavior, he constantly ask the same questions over and over, We have never had any family help or many brakes from him. We have tried consistency and rules, to get him to do anything is impossible. There are so many things I could ramble on about.. Like we CANT go anywhere without an argument and recking our time being out. We have had him in all sorts of homebase programs, psychiatry help ect. He knows what buttons to push. Is there anything else out there to help! We want the best for him, we were hoping things would get better or I should say easier..
        • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


          I hear how challenging your son’s behavior has been for you

          and your family over the years, and I appreciate you writing in and sharing

          your experiences.  I encourage you to continue to work with local supports

          in your community, not only to address your son’s behavior, but also to help

          you and other family members to cope with his outbursts.  If you haven’t

          already done so, contacting the 211 Helpline can be a great resource to help

          you locate available resources in your area.  You can visit them online at

          http://www.211.org or call 1-800-273-6222 for

          assistance.  I recognize how difficult this must be for you, and I wish you

          all the best moving forward.  Take care.

    • Anna


      Hello LJWMomof2,

      I don't typically reach out to strangers online, but my son's school district is recommending residential treatment and I am terrified to send him away (to Utah) based on my research. I am deeply concerned about the potential for abuse, etc. I know that there have been some suicides and accidental deaths at some facilities. I know that many of these incidents occurred in the 90's and early to mid-2000's, but I'm still very concerned. I also do not like the fact that, for many of these residential facilities, children have to earn the right to call home. 

      Would you be willing to email me and tell me a bit about your experience? I have been trying to find parents who have first hand experience with sending their child to a residential facility. I would be extremely grateful if you could give me some insight into your experience, particularly since you said that it really helped your son.My son has been diagnosed with Asperger's and he also has depression; he's 15.

      Thank you in advance! :)

      • CherlyQ

        @Anna LJWMomof2

        I can relate to you & have decided to send our son to Anasazi. It is a wilderness camp in AZ. Look at the website Anasazi Foundation

        and decide for yourself. It sounds great & does not manipulate the child, or use abuse. Good luck

        • redh0tm0m
          @CherlyQ LJWMomof2 How are you all affording these wilderness camps?  They are hugely expensive - thousands of dollars!
      • Cowboy8
        @Anna LJWMomof2 I would also be interested with your insight into one of these residential facilities.  My son is in the same boat as Anna's -- 15 and loosely diagnosed with Asperger's.  My wife and I have tried pretty much everything....structure, setting goals, etc..with no luck.  We have two little childrenMore as well, ages 1 & 3 and are concerned with the behaviors that they are picking up from the 15 yr old.  Any information would be greatly appreciated.
      • mom in nc

        @Anna LJWMomof2 

        I am also considering sending my youngest son to a similar

        camp – mine is in NC, but they have a sister camp in Utah; so I’m thinking they

        are the same company or philosophy.In

        my research online, I also saw the info on abuse and accidental deaths (also

        late 1990’s and early 2000’s) – I haven’t seen any recently; but likeyou still concerned and hesitant.I tend to see the same people posting the

        same negative comments across sites – but also some wonderful supportive

        comments from attendees.My oldest son

        has a friend who attended the NC camp and says it is the best thing that could

        have ever happened to him.I have yet to

        speak with him.

        I hope people have information to share more widely as I'd also like to know more.

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