Whether it’s the first time or not, having your child expelled from school is always a challenging thing for both parents and their teens. The news could be quite devastating, because parents see education as the key to their teens’ success in the future. Some teens get expelled because of a really bad decision they made, or a series of bad decisions, and parents are concerned this may hinder them from getting a good college education in the future.
Don’t play the blame game
Many parents whose kids get expelled from school tend to blame themselves for what happened. Some parents go the other way and blame their children for the bad decisions that they made. While it’s important to hold your child accountable for bad decisions, expulsion is a natural consequence that they have to deal with. It’s more important to expend energy into effort to restore your child’s hope and faith in himself/herself. As the old addage goes, it’s not how many times you fall down but how you pick yourself up that matters.
It’s important for parents to help their teens find out what patterns and behaviors have caused them to get to this point in their lives, and to help them change these self-defeating behaviors before they escalate into something worse.
It’s also important for parents to encourage their teens to move forward from this setback. It’s good to talk about the series of bad choices that led to that moment, but it’s not healthy to keep on going back and rehashing these bad decisions every step of the way to recovery. Stop looking back in order for expelled teens to move forward. Learning from mistakes do not mean that you must remind your teen of the things they did that brought them to a difficult situation. Doing so will only embitter teens and hinder them from forgiving themselves.
Understanding is Key
Expelled teens didn’t get to this point overnight. Finding out what behaviors need to be addressed is an important part to getting your teen on the right track. The most common reasons teens get expelled from school include breaking important laws in school, violence, drug use, abusive behavior, and others. While it’s important to get to the bottom of the reason why your teen was expelled, taking the time to talk to your teen and hear his/her side of the story first is equally important.
Expulsion is a natural consequence
Yes, expulsion is a serious matter that could derail your child’s academic life, but it’s also a good time for growth. Many well-meaning parents protect their teens from the terrible consequences of their actions and end up doing everything they can to get their teens accepted in a school. When teens do not experience the natural consequences that led them to expulsion, they’re (more than likely) bound to repeat their mistakes.
What other options do expelled teens have?
When facing the reality of expulsion, parents and teens should ask the question, “where do we go from here?” There are other options available to teens, and each one has merits depending on your teen’s current situation. What’s important is that parents don’t just look for where to put their teens next, but also to how this change will help them get back on the right track.
Remember that no matter how many schools your teen goes to, unless the root of the problem is dealt with, you’ll be going back to the same problems over and over again. What parents should look for is not just placement but also treatment. Here are a few suggestions:
Public school – There are some schools that offer alternative programs for expelled teens. It may be helpful to check whether there are any schools near your district which offers this kind of program. Additionally, parents can also consider counseling while going through these programs in order to help teens address the behavior that put them there in the first place.
Home schooling – There are situations where teens can benefit from some home schooling, as long as parents are willing to be involved in the homeschooling pogram. Especially in cases where teens were expelled because of truancy, gang involvement, and other consequences of being mixed up with a bad crowd, homeschooling may offer a lot of benefits that mainstream education won’t.
Again, what homeschooling lacks is the counseling/therapy that struggling young people need to enable themselves to turn over a new leaf. Homeschooling is also more effective if teens live in a house where one parent stays at home. An involved parent can offer and enforce the kind of structure that can help young people get their act together. Coupled with non-residential therapy, homeschooling can be a great choice for some teens, in some cases.
Go through the appeals process – In cases where parents feel that the decision to expel their teen is not convincing enough, they can go through an appeals process to reinstate their teen back to the school. In such parents, parents can coordinate with the school principal to ask about the appeals process.
Residential therapy – A lot of alternative therapeutic boarding schools offer residential therapy to troubled teens. In many cases where teens struggle with school and in their personal life, these boarding schools can provide the structure and support that they need in order to regain control of their lives.
For many teens who are struggling with behavioral issues, substance abuse, and other problems, residential therapy can be just the pivotal turning point that they need in their lives. The best part of this is that young people can get therapy while they are earning academic credits. This way they can experience success in their academic life too.
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