Raising a teenager in today’s fast-paced digital world is not for the faint of heart, and we give parents props for doing such demanding but necessary work. With a sigh of relief, you may feel like your time in the trenches is ending when your recently graduated high schooler begins college. So it may surprise you that by the end of the first semester, your high school graduate is failing college, on academic probation, and has moved back home. This scenario leaves many parents wondering what exactly went wrong. And what they can do to help.
Academic failure weighs heavy on the hearts of many parents (and also youth!) But you don’t have to wait for that dreaded call at the end of the semester. Research has unearthed a handful of back-to-school red flags that signal that an academic or emotional storm may be brewing on the horizon.
Back To School Red Flags: Identifying Early Warning Signs
Early detection and intervention is the best way to help your child from yielding to academic struggles, social isolation, or emotional distress. Take note if you see any academic or behavioral changes, as promptly addressing these early warning signs in students allows for timely intervention. Addressing red flags early on could prevent issues from escalating and negatively impacting a student’s emotional well-being and academic progress.
Academic Performance Warning Signs
- A sudden drop in grades or academic performance
- Frequent absences or skipping classes
- Lack of interest in previously enjoyed subjects or extracurricular activities
- A sudden change of friend groups
Behavioral Changes in Students
- Increased irritability, anger, or mood swings
- Withdrawal from social interactions and isolating behavior
- Noticeable changes in eating or sleeping habits
- Signs of depression, anxiety, or excessive worrying
- Expressing feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness
- Difficulty managing stress and coping with challenges
Executive Function Deficits
- Poor time management and organization skills
- Inability to plan and complete tasks independently
- Forgetfulness and difficulty following instructions
Substance Abuse Warning Signs
- Noticeable changes in appearance or personal hygiene
- Secretive behavior and avoiding discussions about activities
- Physical symptoms such as bloodshot eyes or sudden weight changes
How Pure Life’s Gap Year Can Make A Difference
We know from experience and research that gap years can be a pivotal moment in your child’s emotional and educational journey. Gap years can benefit your child by helping them develop a growth mindset by engaging in activities that build self-confidence, leadership, and life skills.
Pure Life Adventure is proud to offer a robust, clinically-sound outdoor therapy program to get struggling young adults back on track. Along with cultural immersion and adventure activities, an important part of our adventure therapy program includes group and one-on-one therapy to provide mental health support. We work with the entire family and coach parents through this difficult time.
DISCOVER: How The Pure Life Program Can Help
Understanding The Benefits Of A Therapeutic Gap Year
While the benefits of a therapeutic gap year are many, these are our top three benefits that we are excited to share with your child:
Experiential learning. This powerful educational approach involves learning through direct experience, reflection, and active engagement. It can significantly impact personal growth as students actively participate in hands-on activities and real-life situations. Experiential learning often involves encountering unexpected challenges and uncertainties. Through these experiences, individuals develop adaptability, critical thinking skills, self-confidence, and a sense of accomplishment as they overcome challenges and achieve their goals.
Nature’s therapeutic effect on mental health. Nature can have a significant impact on mental health. Whether it’s the calming influence of nature’s sights and sounds that reduce stress or the exposure to sunlight or change of urban scenery, engaging with nature’s beauty can evoke a sense of awe, wonder, and connectedness, enhancing positive emotions and outlook. Getting out in nature can improve creativity, problem-solving, and mental clarity.
Resilience and self-esteem through outdoor activities. Whether navigating unfamiliar terrain, facing adverse weather conditions, or pushing your physical limits, participating in physical outdoor activities, like surfing and rafting, will give your child a clear sense of purpose and direction as she works towards overcoming personal challenges and perceived limitations. By stepping out of their comfort zone, young adults learn to adapt, problem-solve, and persevere in facing difficulties–all skills that transfer well into normal, everyday life.
The Integrated Approach Of Therapeutic Gap Years
The development of emotional intelligence is crucial for personal growth. As individuals become more self-aware, they can make more informed decisions, set meaningful goals, and develop a stronger sense of identity. This is where the magic happens. When you combine traditional therapy with outdoor experiences, your child will experience a uniquely designed therapeutic experience specifically tailored by our talented therapists and field guides for each student’s needs. The end result? Increase mindfulness, emotional regulation, and practical and essential life skills development.
LEARN MORE: Starting Your Gap Year Strong
Why Pure Life’s Therapeutic Gap Year Program Stands Out
Helping struggling students is our only goal. We strongly believe that a holistic, natural, and active approach will create lasting change, and our therapeutic gap year program was built to do just that. Our program stands proudly above the rest. When you work with Pure Life Adventure, you can count on a team that has:
Decades Of Experience in the Costa Rican Outdoor Industry
With experience that dates back to 2003, Pure Life is lucky to have such a talented and diverse team on staff. Each member is passionate about the outdoors and dedicated to facilitating quality therapeutic experiences for our students.
Bicultural Team Understanding Cross-Cultural Needs
Our skilled bicultural team means that we have multiple life views to draw upon to help us meet young adults where they’re at. This board life view allows us to connect with students, meet cross-cultural needs, and understand cultural differences.
Holistic Approach To Addressing Mental Health Challenges
We aren’t shy about saying that we provide our students with the best care in the field. Our holistic approach is based on group and individual therapy, reconnecting with nature, discovering new skills and talents, and developing sound wellness practices, like healthy eating, consistent exercise, good sleeping habits, mindfulness, and meditation.
Emphasis On Fitness, Cultural Immersion, And Life Skills
We strongly believe that fitness, cultural immersion, and the development of life skills are some of the most important components of any lasting therapeutic approach. In our program, your young adult will spend time doing outdoor activities like rock climbing, hiking, camping, and rafting–not only do these activities build strong bodies, they also build strong minds and emotional intelligence.
Decoding Back-to-School Red Flags – Pure Life Can Crack The Code
If your loved one is struggling emotionally or academically, and you have identified any of our back-to-school red flags, don’t wait to take action. Early identification of warning signs and timely intervention can prevent potential challenges from escalating.
As you seek professional guidance and explore available resources, we encourage you to consider whether a therapeutic gap year or semester could benefit your child. Pure Life Adventure’s adventure therapy offers a holistic, tailored environment to develop personal growth, skill-building, and emotional healing. Many former students express gratitude for what our program has taught them. We offer some of the best care in the industry. Get in touch with Pure Life today to see how our program can help.