• What One Family’s Experience With Wilderness Camp Can Teach Parents With A Struggling Teenager | Amie Carey | Episode 71

  • When you have a struggling teenager and you’ve tried every parenting solution you can find only to have them not work, it can leave you devastated. It can also feel like you are all alone but other families are experiencing a similar situation. In fact, it’s not hard to find parents at their wits end. Mighty Parenting podcast host Sandy Fowler is talking to Amie Carey, a mother who has been there. Amie is sharing her family’s story and what they learned from a wilderness camp and other alternative therapies.


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    A Favorite Quote from the Show:

    “She couldn’t escape her brain.”

    High Points of What One Family’s Experience with a Wilderness Camp Can Teach Parents With a Struggling Teenager:

    struggling teenagerAs a child, Violet was feisty, independent, and a leader. She was also irritable with an edge and had a clear issue with men. She was not a giggly, happy kid and did not laugh easily. As she got older, she had tantrums and impulse control problems.

    She was feeling out of control and chaotic.

    She could make friends but not keep them. Mom recognized her friend dynamics were off and teachers recommended evaluations.

    The school she was in couldn’t handle this and shamed Violet. By the end of 2nd grade they tried a new school, one for kids with behavior issues.

    Violet’s real problem was that she couldn’t escape her brain.

    Mom was walking on eggshells.

    Violet said, “You have to help me Mommy. My problems are too big”.

    They hired an education consultant who suggested a wilderness camp.

    When Violet went to camp it was extremely difficult for Amie as she would not be there to steward Violet’s therapy. However, she worked closely with the therapist, was updated regularly, and the entire family attended workshops.

    When camp was over, it was decided that Violet needed more time to learn and adjust so she went to boarding school. This also gave the family time to learn and practice the tools they were learning.

    Violet’s problems weren’t just Violet’s problems, they impacted the entire family, including the kids. Violet’s problems were the squeaky wheel that got all the grease.

    When we have a struggling teenager, we have to consider all the possibilities – physical concerns, brain wiring or chemistry, and lack of social or emotional skills.

    All kids need structure, consistency, trust.

    Four key tenants Amie has learned about parenting:

    1. Structure is a gift. It is safety and stability that our children need.
    2. Never react to your child with emotion. If you are emotional then wait to respond. They don’t necessarily need to know the answer right this moment. You can tell them, “I’m going to come back to you in an hour”.
    3. Never give a consequence you won’t follow through on.
    4. Write a contract outlining expectations, privileges, and consequences.

    A brain with chaotic wiring needs structure. If you have a struggling teenager, be sure to create and maintain structure.

    Resources Mentioned in Show:

    Saving Teens: In Crisis Collaborative

    The Power of Differentby Gayle Saltz

    The Journey of the Heroic Parent: Your Child’s Struggle & The Road Homeby Brad M. Reedy PhD

    A Girl I Know podcast with Amie Carey

    Our Guest:

    Amie CareyAmie Carey is an advocate for families in crisis, a blog and podcaster, and most importantly a mom of a daughter who has struggled. She has gone to Congress to plea for change, worked with tons of alternative treatment facilities, and parents.

    She is extremely passionate about changing the conversation around child and adolescent mental health. Her podcast is a narrative-based, super vulnerable and intimate walk with her and her family through some trying times, bookended by more summary statements applicable to all. Join the conversation and ditch the stigma!

    To learn more or connect with our guest visit www.agirliknow.org