Finding out that your child has been suspended from school can be difficult for any parent to hear, especially if it’s not their first time. Every school has a different system when it comes to what kind of behavior warrants suspension and what suspension will look like. Some schools may offer strikes or offer clean slates every year, while others are strict about readmission. While attendance is an important part of your teen’s academic success, being suspended from school does not mean that they will never graduate.
Ask for details
Your child and their school’s administration may tell different stories and neither one may be the absolute truth. Every story has two sides. While their perspective may not have an impact on the school’s decisions, understanding their side of things helps determine how you might respond. They may have been expelled for a variety of reasons, including substance use, fighting, bullying, breaking the law, or getting arrested, or even a combination of the above. While you may be frustrated with the situation, asking about their point of view shows that you care about their well-being and want to trust them.
Consider their response
They may avoid all responsibility for their behavior or claim that they were being unfairly treated and express gratitude for not having to go back to that school. They may feel relieved if they didn’t feel like the school was a good fit for them, either academically or socially. Or, they may be just as disappointed as you are, feel ashamed about what happened and feel hopeless about the future. If they fall in the latter category, they may be more likely to reach out for help.
Remind them that they options
For a teenager, getting suspended can feel like the end of the world. Dealing with this shame and helplessness may contribute to their reactivity, meaning they may be more likely to cope by continuing to use substances, fighting, or participating in risky behaviors. It is possible that they may enter a downward spiral where these may escalate. Whether you choose to discipline them on your own, reassure them that you have not given up on them and that they should not give up on themselves. If they can acknowledge what happened and areas that they have control over in order to move forward, they can find an alternative option that will help them get back on their feet and potentially thrive more than they had before.
Look at alternative options together.
Although they may feel like getting suspending was out of their control, it is important that they have input about what to do next. Even if they reject your help and claim they don’t care, they are more than likely overwhelmed by the situation and scared of the next step. While they may be struggling to make realistic goals for themselves and underestimating their ability to succeed, remember that you can’t jump to their rescue and make the decision for them. Giving them a chance to make decisions about their future empowers them to realize what they have control over.
It may be worth it to look into alternative programs or schools, specifically designed to help children and teenagers who have trouble adapting to these environments. Programs that help children learn interpersonal skills and the coping mechanisms they need to deal with stressful situations in a reasonable way can help them thrive inside and outside of the classroom.
How Can Trails Carolina Help
Trails Carolina is a wilderness therapy program that helps teens ages 10-17 who are struggling with mental health issues and risky behaviors. This program uses adventure-based therapy to help students gain a new sense of self-awareness, confidence, and independence. The skills they learn throughout the wilderness program offer long-term benefits towards their ability to successfully self-navigate in the real world.
Unlike other wilderness programs, Trails Carolina balances wilderness programming with AdvancEd (SACS) accredited academics to help your teen earn school credit while learning more about themselves. Our personalized, experiential classroom environment helps our students achieve success and practice their new skills in a school setting. Many of our students have struggled with school refusal, school failure, or other disciplinary issues. Sometimes this is a reflection of other behavioral issues, poor effort, or other learning style issues. We work with each child to help create an environment of academic success.
Contact us at 800-975-7303 for more information about your options when your child has been suspended from school. We can help your family today!