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Parent Considering Boot Camp for Son
Q: We've recently moved to another state and my son has had a lot of problems in his new school. He's had more days out because of suspensions than he's had off for a valid excuse. The school says he needs to repeat the seventh grade and he doesn't care. It's going to be a long and exhausting summer. What do you think of a boot camp or a military school? I'm out of options and he doesn't show any interest at all.
A: What difference would boot camp or a military school make if he doesn't want to stay in school? Yes, you can make him stay, but is that your goal? Kids often have a difficult time adapting to a new school. What is different now than in his previous school? Is this an entirely new problem? I tend to think it isn't. If you want your son to be happy and succeed, you will have to problem-solve as a family. The first step in problem-solving is identifying the problem.
Although it is late in the school year, I urge you to contact the school counselor and your son's teachers to share ideas and to work on a plan to help your son. What are his strengths and potentials? Why is he being suspended? What is going on at school, or on the way to school, that makes him hate school. Talk with your son. What does he like to do? How often have you let him stay home? What limits and consequences have you set up for his behavioral choices?
After talking with the school and your son, I encourage you and your partner to enroll in parenting classes where you will receive support and learn the best ways to set limits for your son.
My response is filled with questions but until you can answer them, it will be difficult for you to find options for your son and for yourself that will establish an atmosphere of trust and safety that he - and all of you -- need to be happy.
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Connie Collins, professional school counselor, worked for 35 years in public education as a teacher and counselor at the middle school and secondary levels. Collins worked daily with the parents of the students in her various schools, and has facilitated several parenting groups.