Teen Disruptive Behavior: 4 Months to Transformation at Turning Winds

Eighteen-year-old Ben grew up in a military family. His father Greg served in the US Army for 29 years, leading the family to move frequently. Ben’s early years in Texas were marked by teen disruptive behavior and cocky attitude,” according to his mother Laura. “He wasn’t really violent, just very obnoxious.”

Overcoming Teen Disruptive Behavior and ADHD Struggles

His older siblings had been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and when Ben started to have failing grades in the last year of elementary school, he was also diagnosed with ADHD.

Despite medication, Adderall (amphetamine/dextroamphetamine), he continued to struggle, in fact his academic struggles became more severe and evolved into teen disruptive behavior in middle school, including rudeness and defiance.

“He was like a different child but now he wasn’t eating right,” remembers his mother. He continued to be disruptive at school and also very rude at home, calling us names and trashing his room.”

Ben underwent a series of tests and was “diagnosed with a bunch of things,” as his mother puts it. He was put on an individualized education plan or IEP.  “Laura’s heart clenched every time Ben refused another school lunch.  The special help seemed pointless when he wouldn’t cooperate, and their evenings were still a battlefield of arguments and slamming doors.”

After a while, Ben started to refuse the Adderall, throwing it out instead of taking it. He had to go to the school nurse to take the meds which he perceived as embarrassing. Then Ben got much worse during his freshman year in high school.

“He skipped class, slept through IEP lessons, then ran around all night,” Laura recalls. “At this point, every option felt like a dead end.  Homeschooling, meant to give ben more control, just spiraled into chaos. Laura felt betrayed when Ben stole money meant for his future.  She wondered, whether this was their life now – full of fear and disappointment?

Seeking Solutions: Homeschooling, Military School and Beyond

When Ben got into trouble again, his parents tried sending him to the Military Youth Academy but it wasn’t a good fit for him. “He lasted about two weeks before he ran away,” says his father. “Then his mother found Turning Winds.”

Getting him to the Turning Winds campus turned into a nightmare for Greg and Laura. “Ben ran away at the airport and special ops had to search for him and take him to Montana,” his father recalls. Then Ben tried to run away from Turning Winds when he realized where he was. “They found him by the side of the road and brought him back. Little by little he started to improve. It doesn’t happen overnight.”

Finding Healing a LONG-TERM APPROACH at Turning Winds

Ben took about four months to buy into the program. “During the first month, he was extremely defiant,” Laura remembers. “Then he started opening up to his therapists but was still very rude to us, calling us names and blaming us for him being at Turning Winds.”

“We were warned by the Turning Winds team to expect him to be more resentful, harsher and that he  wouldn’t easily admit he was making progress at Turning Winds.” The team also offered a glimmer of hope: fixing this wasn’t just about Ben changing, it was us changing also.”

During the fourth month at Turning Winds, Ben was getting a lot better. “He spoke to us in full sentences and he would say ‘Hey, we did this today.’ He had learned that the more he gave, the more he got.”


For the parents, it was a learning process, too. Families are encouraged to attend the Turning Winds parent workshop, an incredible educational experience with Dr. Foster Klein, the founder of the Love & Logic Institute. “This guy with 40 years of experience as a board-certified adolescent psychiatrist has developed one of the coolest programs ever for kids,” explains Turning Winds’ chief operations officer Carl Baisden.

Family connection is one of the 12 character virtues taught at Turning Winds: students develop a greater appreciation for the strengths and resources they can draw upon within their family. And families learn how best to provide those strengths and resources.

“Turning Winds worked with us in every aspect, getting him down there, being very patient with us, answering all our questions,” says Laura. At the time, Ben’s parents had hoped he could stay a full year in Montana but that wasn’t possible for insurance reasons and his age—Ben turned 18 during treatment and wanted to come home.


“We made the right choice and we would definitely choose Turning Winds again,” says Laura. “The Turning Winds team is made up of great, caring people, and they’re very patient, that’s a key factor. I trusted Turning Winds to be able to help him—they put a lot of effort into each individual.”

Ben is a changed person now. For instance, his dad tells us “Ben was always very much against everything that had to do with the military, but two weeks before his discharge from Turning Winds, he suddenly told me he was interested in going into the military. I think if he found the right unit that would work really well for him.”

“Turning Winds did a great job for our child,” says Laura.

At Turning Winds, we extend our clinical services beyond the confines of four walls. We have taken the best elements of care from wilderness therapy, therapeutic boarding schools, and inpatient treatment to create a one-of-a-kind residential treatment center.

Over the past two decades, Turning Winds has been able to help many families overcome what seemed impossible odds. Our mission is to rescue teens from crisis situations, renew their belief in their potential, reunite them with their families, and put them on a sustainable path to success.

Contact us online for more information, or call us at 800-845-1380. If your call isn’t answered personally, one of us will get back to you as soon as possible.

Note: To protect the privacy of individuals the names have been changed.


Learn More About Teen Disruptive Behavior: 

There’s no single, universally agreed-upon definition of “teen disruptive behavior”. Here’s why:

  • Behavior is a Spectrum: How one parent, caretake or teacher perceives behavior, another might describe simply as bad or challenging. Adolescent behavior can range widely, from normal “typical teen” to behaviors to ones like Ben’s, which cause parents extreme concern or disrupts family dynamics.
  • Context Matters: Consider this, a teen yelling at their parents is disruptive, but less concerning than yelling at a teacher. How do we define disruption? Disruption are typical teen behaviors, which may include seeking independence, experiencing mood swings, or testing boundaries and are considered part of teen development.  Intention matters when defining disruption.  Troubling teen behaviors that result on behavior disruptions are often an indication of much deeper psychological issues such as:
  • Diagnosable Disorders: It’s important to note, some teen behavior meet the criteria for specific diagnoses like Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) or Conduct Disorder (CD). These are clinically defined.

Helpful Examples of  Teen Disruptive Behavior

  • Behavior that Violates Rules & Social Norms: The disruptive behaviors below are actions that break established societal expectations at home, school, or in the community.
    • Lying
    • skipping school
    • fighting
    • property damage
    • stealing
  • Behavior that Impacts Others: The disruption to the family or environment cause by these teens can cause serious consequences like:
    • harming relationships
    • causing educational setbacks
    • create a negative environment and stress to the entire family
  • Persistent & Escalating Patterns: Above all, pay particular attention to behaviors that are more than isolated incidents like:

You can learn more about “Teen Disruptive Behaviors” at the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP)



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Picture of John Baisden, Jr

John Baisden, Jr

John Baisden Jr is the father of seven inspiring children, and he is married to Kara, the love of his life. Together they have created a family-centered legacy by leading the way with early childhood educational advancement. John loves to write and is an author of a children’s book, An Unlikely Journey and plans to publish additional books. Show More

John is a visionary in his work and applies “outside-the-box” approaches to business practice and people development. He is the Founder of Turning Winds, along with several other organizations. He has extensive experience launching and developing organizations. His skills include strategic planning, promoting meaningful leader-member movement, organizational change, effective communication, project management, financial oversight and analysis, digital marketing and content creation, and implementing innovative ideas through influential leadership. As a leader, John seeks to empower others and brand success through collaborative work. His vision is to lead with courage, grit, truth, justice, humility, and integrity while emphasizing relational influence rather than focusing on the sheens of titles, positions, or things.

Finally, John is passionate about life and promoting equity among those who are often overlooked because of differences that frequently clash with the “norm.” He lives in Southern Idaho and loves the outdoors and the life lessons that can be learned in such an informal environment.

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