Recently a New Mexico couple made national headline news this past week by making their 16-year-old son stay in a tent which was pitched in the parent’s backyard. Jacob and Angela Boggus told anyone who would listen that they were disciplining their son for repeatedly stealing from them. They said that all other attempts and remedies to stop him had failed, and they had no other options.
Opinions were all over the board. A Valencia County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy advised, “I don’t see anything that is abuse or negligent.” Neighbor Jonathan Cox said, “if you doing something wrong there are consequences. There’s cause and there’s effect.”
Another neighbor was quoted as saying, “It is an awful thing to do to a human being.”
Right or wrong, punishment like this does not work.
- Let’s send him to a camp in Alaska. Let’s freeze his little butt off so they learn some discipline.
- Let’s send her to a cattle ranch in Montana and let her work the land.
- Let’s send him to a military-type boot camp in Utah were he can be forced to hike ten miles a day?
Results from programs like these show the kids do change, but once put back into their original environment, they usually revert back to their same negative behavior – or worse.
Since then, I have learned a more effective solution, one that involves behavioral modification for BOTH the parents and the child.
The parents also need behavioral modification.
Sending a young adult off to be broken like a wild horse has severe physical and mental repercussions. Unless you change their outlook on their behavior and its consequences, you are just wasting your time and money. Making a hardened individual does nothing to get at the core reason of his current behavior.
The parents also need behavioral modification. I always say to the parents of the missing child, “When I find your child, what are we going to do then?” They haven’t a clue.
Thankfully, I do. There are many great programs where serious issues like drugs, alcohol, abusiveness and stealing can be addressed with life-changing success.
I am not bashful about admonishing the parents.
Some parents come into my office and think I can perform some sort of magic that be more effective than their 18 years of parenting.
Some parents come into my office and think I can perform some sort of magic for their child (in a few hours or days) that will somehow be more effective than 18 years of parenting. Honestly, these parents are totally misguided and living a fairy-tale.
In 99% of cases, the child is not born like this. Most of their behavior is learned from parenting, a lack of parenting, or a lack of parenting skills.
The parents need to get counseling as much as their child.
Last year I wrote a post titled Send problem teens to private investigator Thomas G. Martin. If you or someone you know is having problems with a troubled teen, please read that post or send them a link to it.
Trust me when I tell you that “boot camps” and “backyard tents” will only exacerbate and extend whatever problems the child has.
You need to get to the “core” problem, and like anything else in life worthwhile: It’s going to take time and work.