Thursday, December 16, 2010

Troubled Teens and Consequences

The problem with a lot of troubled teens is that they haven’t made the connection between their behavior and the outcomes of their behavior. Why is this so? For many it is because they have been rescued by their parents and not allowed to experience the consequences of their actions. This is usually not because their parents are over-indulgent, but because of their deep concern and care for their children. If a child does not learn to put the two together, though, when they are young, then they are heading for trouble by the time they reach adolescence.
There are two types of consequences that parents need to be aware of, natural and logical. In years past, when children grew up on farms natural consequences were an integral part of their lives. If a child was given the chore of feeding the chickens each morning before going to school and didn’t, the natural consequence would have been that the chickens would suffer and their egg production would dwindle, affecting the whole family. The child learned that their actions had consequences beyond just that of being disciplined for not doing a job.
Logical consequences are consequences that have been set in place by the parent or person in authority, such as, “If you don’t eat your dinner, you can’t have dessert.” Here at Sorenson’s Ranch School we have a program in place to teach troubled teens that their actions have consequences. The program is based on a point system. The students learn that certain behaviors lose points and certain behaviors gain points. Based on the number of points a student has, they can be on level one, two, three, four, or five. Each level, going up, has additional privileges for the students.
Initially, teens arriving at Sorenson’s Ranch School with little or no prior experience of connecting their actions to consequences struggle for a while. As they gain experience in managing their own behavior, they are able to gain privileges by moving up the levels. They are able to see the results of their good behavior as well as their bad behavior. Teaching a struggling teen that their actions have consequences not only for them but also for those who are concerned for their welfare is a process that takes some time and is not something that can be changed overnight.
Sorenson’s Ranch School augments its behavioral modification program with a quality education, excellent therapeutic services, and experiential learning opportunities that one can only get on a working cattle ranch. Troubled teens find a place away from the hustle and bustle of modern life where they can concentrate on learning and changing maladaptive behaviors.

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