Conflict Resolution Skills for Youth in Therapeutic Boarding Schools

Many people would define conflict as any fight, battle, or struggle between two or more people. But conflict is actually more than a disagreement; it's an experience or situation that leads one or more parties involved to feel threatened in some way. Perhaps they feel the threat of losing something or someone. Maybe there's a dispute over property, or a simple difference of opinion about the proper course of action in a career, political, or personal arena. Or, maybe your teen believes his or her curfew or a certain punishment is unreasonable.

Wherever you have human beings socializing, working, or conversing together, there is potential for conflict. For adults, it's part of living and working with others. For teens, conflict with peers, parents, and teachers is a big part of growing up, and can cause a lot of drama. But the ability to resolve those conflicts is a skill they will need both now and in the future.

As our kids grow older, we all want them to learn how to resolve their own conflicts independently. While conflict is part of being human, most people -- even struggling teenagers requiring therapeutic boarding schools -- can learn how to resolve those conflicts effectively.

Conflict Resolution Skills for Youth

We usually think of conflict as a bad thing, but they can actually help as identify problems, appreciate the points of view of others, and learn to create solutions to all kinds of different issues. When teens are involved in conflict, it can actually turn out to be a constructive learning experience if they can learn to resolve it. Here are some important conflict resolution skills that youth need to learn if they are to turn those conflicts into growth experiences.

  • Face Reality
    Conflict is part of being alive, and it's bound to happen to everyone with some frequency. Hiding from a conflict will only delay the inevitable and probably make things worse when the issue is finally dealt with.
  • Don't Pretend
    A lot of teens (and adults) tend to put on a brave face instead of dealing with a conflict. But keeping feelings bottled up usually leads to a bigger issue when pent-up anger is finally released.
  • Identify the Real Problem
    Your teen might disagree with a curfew or denial of a certain activity. But most often, their anger over that situation is spurred on by a perceived threat. What do they feel they'll miss out on? What is the deeper reason they want to come home later or go to that party? Understanding the real basis for that conflict is the most efficient way to a meaningful resolution.
  • Be Honest and Calm
    Honestly expressing your feelings during a conflict should come without anger or pushing blame. The more calmly you can express your point of view, the more likely the other person is to listen.
  • Listen and Empathize
    When a teen is involved in a conflict, sometimes they can't see beyond their own wants or needs. Part of being an adult is learning to listen respectfully to other points of view, even when you feel you are being slighted. Listening to how others feel can bring much-needed perspective.
  • Negotiate
    Resolving a conflict doesn't mean getting what you want. It usually requires substantial give and take, and a need for compromise. Negotiation is a vital life skill that teens and adults need to be able to use effectively in social, career, and educational environments. It involves a willingness to listen, as well as recognize responsibility for your own actions.
  • Don't Dig Up the Past
    A temptation for many teens (and adults) faced with conflict is to begin dragging up old mistakes of the other party in order to "score points." But this only deflects the ability to deal with the actual issues at hand, and puts everyone's guard up even stronger. When resolving conflict, it's important to stick with the present.
  • Pause Before Reacting
    Conflict is stressful. When we're stressed, it can be difficult to keep emotions in check. This is why it's so important to learn to pause and think before reacting -- even if you feel the other person is clearly in the wrong. The way you react can either worsen the conflict or put the other person more at ease. Pausing for a deep breath before you react can make all the difference.
  • Lighten the Mood
    Sometimes there is nothing like humor for diffusing a situation. If you can break the ice with a lighthearted and well-intentioned joke about the situation, it can help put both of you at ease. Just make sure you're laughing with the other person, not at them.
  • Watch
    Body language, facial expressions, gestures, and posture provide important clues to the emotions of someone involved in conflict. Watch for non-verbal clues and think about how you might be communicating non-verbally. Someone who clenches a fist and claims they are fine probably isn't really fine. Calmly try to get them to talk to you so things can be worked out.
  • Choose Your Battles
    Conflict is emotionally draining and can damage a relationship if things get out of hand. Before facing a perceived conflict, consider whether it's really worthwhile. Taking a break from the situation can help you see things more clearly, and you'll often find you were unduly upset.
  • Let it Go
    If your conflict involves an argument over opinion, it's okay to let things go. Agreements can't always be reached, especially in matters of simple opinion. Sometimes, you have to agree to disagree.
  • Forgive
    An unwillingness to forgive makes meaningful conflict resolution impossible. Resist the urge to punish the other person, and decide to forgive. After all, holding onto anger is more of a punishment for you than the other person.

When Conflict Gets Out of Hand

If you have a troubled teenager, you may feel like conflict resolution is the biggest part of your life. If a conflict between you and your teen, or between your teen and their teachers or peers ever escalates to a point where you fear for someone's safety, it may be time to get some outside help. A qualified therapist, or even a therapeutic boarding school, can help you and your teen learn to resolve family, school, or peer conflicts effectively both now and in the future.

When To Start Financial Planning With Your Teen

Teens may not listen to you about keeping their rooms tidy or coming home past curfew, but their ears are likely to perk up when you talk about cash. Take advantage of their interest to teach them some valuable financial management skills.

After all, it is your job to ensure that your children become independent adults who can survive on their own. With proper guidance and direction, your kids are more likely to make sound financial decisions and less likely to call you for cash after flying the nest.

The great thing about starting financial education early in a teen’s life is that they develop a sense of responsibility and accountability that can spill over into other areas of their lives. They'll also have a better chance of developing a healthy relationship with money, increasing their likelihood of becoming good stewards of their own finances in future.

As you start the conversation around money management, emphasize these three principles:

  • Making and living by a budget.
  • Saving money for future use.
  • Steering clear of debt.

Financial Planning For 11-13-year-olds

The preteen years are ideal for you to start inculcating financial responsibility in your children. You can start by teaching them how to draw up a simple budget based on their income (allowances, monetary gifts, birthday checks, etc.) and expenses. If your child has no income, cultivate their work ethic by encouraging them to earn money doing chores like mowing lawns, raking yards or washing cars around the neighborhood.

Once they have some money coming in, help them figure out which expenses - movie tickets, clothing, etc.- they can handle on their own. This is also a good time to teach them how to save for bigger future purchases.

Financial Planning For 14-17-year-olds

At this age, your teen will be ready for a part-time job either during weekends or holidays. This increased income comes with more freedom so emphasize the importance of budgeting and spending on purpose. Also get them in the habit of putting something aside, say to buy a car or pay for that summer vacation they’ve been talking about.

If you gauge that they are ready for more financial responsibility, go ahead and open a teen checking account for them. Most of these are set up with you as a co-owner, giving you the ability to view activity as well as set up limits and restrictions on the account. This is an excellent way for your teen to get a feel of managing their own money when the consequences of messing up are not too serious. To make them even more responsible for their financial actions, resist the urge to bail them out whenever they make mistakes.

In spite of your best efforts, your teen can fall into dangerous financial habits like gambling and will require professional help to get back on track. If this is the case, don’t hesitate to reach out to us for help.

Finding A Step Parent’s Role As Disciplinarian To A Troubled Teen Boy

There seems to be no shortage of the issues that can plague a teen boy these days from peer pressure, alcohol and substance abuse to depression and a host of other emotional and behavioral problems.

Dealing with a troubled teen is quite a feat for any parent, let alone a stepparent. As the latter, you have to perform a delicate balancing act where you’ll have to consider not only your stepson’s feelings but also those of his biological parent.

Acknowledging Your Stepson’s Inner Turmoil

While there could be several reasons why your stepson is acting out, it is very likely that his behavior could be tied to the loss of one of his parents-either through death or divorce. If this is the case, he could be struggling with feelings of grief, loss and abandonment.

Additionally, your teen son might feel resentful towards you and your presence in the family. He might blame you for his parents’ breakup or see your presence as a threat to the memory of his late parent. His disobedience and troubling behavior could be a way of exerting control over the situation.

It is important to recognize your stepson’s inner turmoil as these feelings can easily sabotage your chances of establishing a relationship with him. They can also considerably limit your attempts at establishing authority in the family.

Finding Lasting Solutions

In any family, disciplining children works best when both parents present a united front. You and your stepson’s biological parent, therefore, need to have a candid discussion about each other’s fears and expectations regarding disciplining any children in the family. Also, make sure you agree on the household rules and the consequences for failing to adhere to them.

Other recommendations we can give include:

  • Allow the teen’s biological parent to be the direct disciplinarian until you forge a strong bond with your stepson. Taking the lead disciplinarian role can drive a permanent wedge in your fledgling relationship.
  • If you have merged your own children from a previous relationship into the family, ensure both your stepson and his step-siblings face the same disciplinary measures where possible. This will help minimize sibling rivalry which can tear the family’s unity apart.
  • Encourage your troubled stepson to speak out and say what’s on his mind. If he does, ensure you listen without judgment or interruptions. This will go a long way towards fostering trust between the two of you.
  • Get your struggling stepson the right therapeutic care to help him overcome his issues. Family therapy might also come in handy in uncovering any residual problems that might hinder his recovery.

With great care and patience, your stepson can go on to lead a successful life. Should you need any assistance getting him on the right track, don’t hesitate to contact us. We’ll do our best to help you find a lasting solution.

How Structure and Freedom Can Go Hand in Hand in Your Teens Success

What do you think your teenager really wants in a parent? Someone to be their best friend? A parent that lets them get away with anything? Lax rules and the ability to go where they like, until whatever time they like?

Believe it or not, teenagers are actually more likely to want parents that do their job and set boundaries. Not only is it more comfortable for the teen, it is better for their development and health.

Perhaps most surprising of all, teenagers who have a sense of structure in their home can feel a greater sense of freedom than those who don’t.

The True Meaning Of Freedom

At face value you can assume teenage freedom is one where there are no rules binding them from certain behaviors. As a parent you can see how that would be far from a positive in your home. What you might not consider is that freedom doesn’t mean that, at all.

Let’s say that Mary is 16. Her parents decided a few years before to take a hands-off approach and let her make her own decisions. After all, she is almost an adult. Why not allow her to make her mistakes and solve them? It would let her get ahead of her peers!

What choice does Mary make? She stays out late, goes to parties and eventually gets busted for underage drinking. Worst still she had an open container in the car while behind the wheel and now has had her barely-acquired license taken away for a mandatory five years. Which is a shame because now she will have to get mom or dad to take her to her community service, which will take up her entire summer.

Does Mary seem like she is free? Not even a little bit. Lack of guidance and parental structure led her down an irresponsible road, which is far from surprising. Teens have been proven to be hard wired to make reckless decisions. It is something their brain has to develop beyond.

Laying Down Hard Lines

Being a parent isn’t always fun. Your teens probably won’t thank you for setting boundaries and making sure they toe the line. But in the end you are helping them to remain safe, happy, health and - even if they don’t see it - free.

They might not thank you for it right now, but just wait a few years. Once they have grown enough to understand the value of stability they will be singing your praises.

Find out more at Liahona Academy.

Setting A Positive Example Of Phone Use For Your Teen

Here is an interesting fact: teens are using alcohol and drugs less than ever before. Researchers are not entirely certain of why this is, but they do have a theory. They believe that it could be the use of smartphones and other electronic devices. With easy access to stimulation, coupled with the threat of videos and images being posted on social media, teenagers seem to be happy with their phones instead.

There is a downside to this trend. Teens are spending more time on their phones, which includes late into the night. Screen use at night may be having a serious impact on their overall physical and mental health. It is clear that, as parents, we have to help our teenagers moderate their electronic use.

Setting an Example...Why We Find It So Difficult

The most obvious way around this problem is to show our teens good habits. But we don’t do so well ourselves...admit it, you have spent more than one night laying in bed skimming Instagram or playing Candy Crush. The draw of a smartphone can be hard to fight, especially after a long and stressful day when you just want to let your brain veg.

Some ways to help yourself do better - and so show your teenager how to be better themselves - are:

  • Put phones in another room at night. Set up a powerstrip of chargers in the kitchen and require all family member's devices be plugged in by a set time every night. It will lessen the temptation to look at the screen right before bed.
  • Unplug every day for some family time. Have meals together and spend some time every evening as a family just talking or doing something fun. Maybe it is taking the dogs for a walk together, or hitting a bowling alley. It could be as simple as sitting down for a board game. It shows teens that they don’t need a phone to be entertained and provides excellent relationship-growing time.
  • Have them install a blue light app. These filters are kind of a last resort. They automatically filter the screen light at night to make it easier on the eyes and to reduce the impact of blue light on the brain. Experts say that this can reduce headaches, give you more quality sleep and lessen eye strain.
  • Talk to them! Teenagers are intelligent and have a vested interest in their own health. Let them know why smartphone use can be damaging if they don’t give it a rest from time to time.

Find out more at Liahona Academy.

What Length Of Time At A Boys Ranch Is Right For Your Teen With A Behavioral Disorder

Caring at home for a teen boy with a behavioral disorder might be a tall order for parents. The teen’s self-destructive behavior can affect the whole family, especially their siblings. In such situations when a boy’s behavior makes it impossible to function at home or at school or he becomes a threat to himself and others, parents should consider placement at a boy’s ranch.

It is understandable that you’d feel a measure of frustration, guilt and wariness at the thought of sending your son for treatment at a ranch for troubled boys. However, boys dealing with anger, lying, depression, defiance towards authority, drug abuse and other behavioral problems need to be removed from the negative influences in their current environment.

Since reputable boys’ programs are highly structured and supervised, your son will have a safe and supportive environment to work on his issues. He will also meet other boys going through the same problems so he won’t feel so alone and out of place. Additionally, these ranches have staff who are professionally trained to not only assist troubled teens to overcome their issues but also teach them positive skills and habits.

How Long Will Your Son Stay At The Ranch?

The duration your son will spend at a boys’ ranch is dependent on his needs and on the assessment of the treatment team. Some ranches offer short-term programs, some offer long-term ones and others offer both.

On average, the stay is anywhere from 3 to 12 months, although this might vary depending on:

  • The diagnosis by the treatment professionals.
  • Your son’s receptiveness to the intervention.

Boys in these programs receive services as long as they, their families and the treatment team determine there is a need. You should keep in mind that your son is an individual and his behavioral problems might present very differently from other boys. The same also goes for treatment. Where one person might show remarkable improvement after a short time, others might take much longer. For this reason, most therapy ranches give parents regular updates on their son’s progress and even include them in family therapy sessions so they can offer support and become a crucial part of their child’s recovery.

Get More Information

Other than the length of stay, there are numerous elements to consider when selecting a boys’ therapy ranch for your struggling teen son. These include state laws and regulations, financing, class sizes and the program offered. Help Your Teen Now has built an extensive database of knowledge on the most reputable ranches in the country and we can help you narrow down your selection to get one that will work best for your teen and family. Remember the earlier you seek help, the sooner your son can receive the treatment he requires to get better.

How a Lax Parenting Strategy Can Jeopardize Your Teen’s Future

Being a parent is exhausting work. Between your family, career, and other commitments, you have all sorts of demands on you. Sometimes, parents find it easier to take a more relaxed approach to parenting. Because they already have so much on their minds, perhaps they are too mentally and physically taxed to parent more actively. Or, maybe they're just laid-back people who don't see the harm in a more permissive approach.

While it's important to let kids experience failures and endure the naturally-occurring consequences for their actions, a parenting style that's too relaxed (or conversely, too strict) can have a negative long-term impact on the success of kids and teens. Having relatively few rules and demands in place may mean they'll have to learn about grownup responsibilities the hard way -- from the "school of hard knocks."

Potential Effects of Lax or Permissive Parenting

Kids and teens raised by parents who are too relaxed or overly permissive often experience negative outcomes. These effects are displayed not only while growing up, but later in life when they find themselves in the "real world."

  • Lack of self-discipline -- They may lack the ability to drive themselves toward goals or limit their own behavior
  • Poor social skills -- They tend to be more difficult to get along with, and be hesitant to share
  • Selfishness -- A tendency toward being self-involved and more demanding of others to meet their needs
  • Insecurity -- A lack of boundaries and guidance often leads to feeling less secure about oneself
  • Poor decision-making -- Difficulty solving their own problems and making wise choices
  • Low achievement -- Growing up without having to meet parental expectations, they may not be motivated to set and achieve goals in school and life
  • Poor self-management -- Lack of structure doesn't allow for learning limits and boundaries. They may waste hours watching TV, overeat, or miss appointments
  • Delinquency -- Higher likelihood of misconduct in school and work, leading to higher risk of breaking the law
  • Aggressive behavior -- Inability to handle emotions constructively or effectively. Lower emotional intelligence in dealing with feelings of themselves and others.
  • Substance abuse -- Higher likelihood of abusing alcohol and / or drugs as kids, teens, and adults

How to Prevent Lax Parenting

If you're worried that your parenting style may be too relaxed or permissive, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you have basic household rules, and do you enforce them consistently?
  • Are consequences, both natural and applied, appropriate for the infraction?
  • Do you follow through with punishments in a firm, but loving way? Do you help your kids understand the relationship between their behavior and the punishment?
  • Do you enforce curfews?
  • Are your kids expected to meet certain standards in schoolwork?
  • Do you reward your kids for their good behavior, and let them know you notice?

If you see symptoms of permissive parenting in your own family, try to implement some changes -- one rule at a time. Make your expectations clear, and let your kids know what consequences will follow if rules are broken. Above all, be consistent, and do everything you can to support your teens in living by the rules. If you're having trouble with a teen who constantly acts out, or you fear he or she needs additional help, reach out.

How Impulse Control Is Vital In Your Teens Social & Professional Life

An interesting study was released in 2014 that found that teenagers have the ability to control their impulses better than adults when they are in a neutral environment. However the moment emotion is introduced their impulse control plummets. This seems to correlate to what we see in teenagers on our own, as they struggle to maintain their equilibrium in times of extreme stress.

Likewise, teenagers may have trouble saying no to things they consider pleasurable, or just denying their peers when offered things they know they should reject. This is the essence of peer pressure, which could be worsened by that impulse control issue.

Unfortunately a lack of control can lead to serious problems arising in both personal and professional situations. They can see their social life decline, or miss out on opportunities in their work like that could improve their lives.

Trying to teach impulse control to teenagers, especially those with behavioral issues, may be a struggle. But there are some simple ways to get started.

Encourage Hobbies and Extracurricular Activities

Depression and restlessness can lead to your teen making bad decisions. Having something such as a hobby or extracurricular activity to focus on keeps the mind from stagnating. It may also encourage them to stay away from decisions that could impact those activities and connect them to others who are a good influence.

Begin Monitoring Their Sleep and Diet Habits

Food and sleep impact so much in our lives. If your teen is tired they may be more prone to making decisions without thinking. Being hungry could lead them to snapping or doing something they will regret. You want to promote general health and give them the tools they need to control their impulses. These two factors are the simplest biological elements you can help your teen to control.

Encourage Them To Be Open With You

How wonderful would it be if your teen felt they could call you if they were facing a decision they knew was wrong? Or if they were feeling out of control and knew they could open up to you? Try to suspend judgement and be there to listen to your teen. It isn’t always easy but it could be the difference between a life altering reaction and moving past a serious issue.

Start a Meditation Practice

This is one idea that can benefit you and your teen, both. Start sitting down in the morning or evening for twenty minutes with your teenager and meditating. This could be silent, set to music or guided. You could even choose a walking meditation if you think it would be better for your child.

Get Them Some Professional Help

In some cases the impulse control problem is big enough that you need to seek professional help to deal with it. Therapy or even a structured school dedicated to helping troubled teens may be your best option.

Find out more at Help Your Teen Now.

Building Your Teens Work Ethic That This High Demand World Requires

Lazy. Selfish. Entitled. Spoiled. You’ve probably heard these words applied to the rising generation, maybe accurately or inaccurately. One thing is certain, however, and it’s that you absolutely do not want those words to be applied to YOUR teen. You want your teen to be healthy, happy, hardworking, and well-adjusted in today’s fast paced, highly competitive world. You want them to succeed in whatever they choose to do, and to find value in their lives. In a world where everything is expected to be fast and easy, you can greatly improve your teen’s chances of success and happiness by building their work ethic. We’re here to show you how.

Building Your Teen’s Work Ethic

It’s completely normal to love your teen and want them to have a happy and easy life. You’re not alone if you look back and realize that you’ve required too little of them. It may be hard to shift gears and change direction to help them develop a greater work ethic, but it’s well worth the effort. Begin now.

  • Do less for them. The first way to begin developing their work ethic is to stop doing so much for them. Assess the list of things you do for them and begin delegating things back onto their responsibilities. Let them pack their own lunch. Have them find their own rides to friend’s houses. Allow them to make their own appointments for hair cuts or dental cleanings.
  • Teach basic skills. You may notice that many of the things you’re doing for your teen are things they will eventually need to learn to do themselves, so take some time to teach them now. Choose one task at a time and teach them to do it themselves. Laundry is a great task to teach and then expect your teen to do themselves. Have them do the grocery shopping or prepare a meal for the family.
  • Tackle a Difficult Project. Choose a task or project which you’ve been avoiding due to difficulty. It works especially well if you can choose one in which your teen will be invested – like a finished basement, theater room, outdoor fire pit, restoring an old car, or other rewarding project. Tackle this project with your teen, and be sure to talk through any roadblocks or challenges. It will teach your teen to be persistent and the satisfaction of completing something difficult.
  • Teach strategies. It’s not just about learning to work hard – it’s also how to work hard when you don’t want to. Teach your teen strategies like taking breaks, giving themselves rewards, setting goals, making lists or schedules, asking for help, and anything else that can help them keep going when they feel overwhelmed.
  • Don’t bail them out. Occasionally they will fail. They may forget their huge science project at home, forget to do their chores before a big night out with friends, or run out of money for something they really wanted to buy. It can be painful, but teaching them work ethic means letting them learn from failure so they make smarter and better decisions next time. Expect anger and frustration, but do it with love and be there to talk and listen.

One day your teen will be a full-fledged adult, expected to succeed and contribute to society. How will they do when they leave the nest? Building a strong work ethic can make or break them, but if you find they need more structure and correction than you can provide in order to learn the skills and work ethic they need – there is help out there. Find it now and let your teen learn to fly.

Sibling Rivalry Put To Good Use In Your Home

In the young years the sibling infighting may have threatened to break your patience. The impossibility of sharing toys and space, or constant bickering, or even physical blows in the backyard… remember those days? My how things have changed – or maybe they haven’t. The teenage years change nearly everything, but sibling rivalries can survive the changes and remain healthy. Thankfully, those sibling rivalries can actually be used for good.

Teen Sibling Rivalries

It is not uncommon for teens to feel rivalries with their siblings, and it may not look the way you’d predict. Certainly there exists the traditional rivalries in some relationships: who’s the favorite, who’s the smartest, who gets special treatment, who can get away with more. But it doesn’t always mean bickering. Even siblings who get along admirably may experience sibling rivalry within their relationship.

Using Sibling Rivalry for Good

Sibling rivalries get a bad rap, because they can cause fighting and self-esteem issues. Of course they should be monitored closely and toxic relationships corrected as soon as possible. Good parents can, however, use sibling relationships to improve their children’s lives and tackle head on the issues they face with a troubled teen. There are several ways to use rivalries in a positive manner to strengthen teens:

  • Family Games – keep them silly and inconsequential, just for fun! Play card games, board games, charades, anything that can be fun and help everyone build relationships.
  • Let Your Troubled Teen Win – we’re not saying fake a victory, but choose some kind of competition or new task that your troubled teen is particularly good at. Make a big deal about their winning.
  • Positive Peer Pressure – setting family goals or positive competitions can motivate your troubled teen to do good things. Try a reading challenge, a race to complete chores, rewards for good grades, or any other competition where your teen will want to beat their siblings – with positive consequences for all!
  • Teams – if you have siblings to struggle to get along, have them team up against mom & dad for a board game or other competition. Allowing your teen some time to get to know their sibling better and form some new alliances within the family can make a huge difference for a troubled teen in search of connection.
  • Talk – Talking to your kids about their siblings can be extremely helpful. Be careful not to betray trust, but you can help siblings understand why their brother or sister is acting out. You can also talk to your troubled teen about helping out more with their siblings, because giving them trust and responsibility can be pivotal.

Sibling relationships are so important for teen development and if you can navigate them well you may change the course of your troubled teen’s life. Do your very best to promote healthy relationships and lighthearted rivalries, but be prepared to correct if your troubled teen is unable to cope. If more serious help is needed, seek it now before relationships deteriorate or damage is caused. There is a way to develop lifelong healthy friendships between siblings, and to produce happy and productive adults.