It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men. ~ Frederick Douglass
It would be so amazing if our kids could grow to age 21 with a clear mind. They would be so much more prepared to take on the world in a healthier way.
Drug or alcohol misuse is preventable.
We know many factors can add to a person’s risk for substance use.
After providing the basic needs for your child, there are ways in which you can help protect your child from early drug use.
There is no perfect parenting recipe for raising drug-free kids. It just doesn’t exist, as every situation is different.
My hope is that sharing tips from those who have been down this path with their kids is a good starting point.
Here are some ideas to help you as a parent protect your child from early drug use.
- Communicate. Talk often to your children about the risks of drug use.
- Listen. Be a good listener when your children talk about the pressure they feel, and be supportive of their efforts to resist it.
- Set a good example. Don’t abuse alcohol or drugs. Children of parents who abuse drugs are a greater risk of drug addiction.
- Work on the relationship with your children. A strong, stable bond between you and your teen will reduce your teen’s risk of using or abusing drugs.
- Sit down for a regular family dinner. There is power in this kind of habit that anchors a family and protects children from all types of harm.
- Be clear on your expectations. Communicate clearly what you expect and stick with your consequences.
- Treat your children with respect. No matter what your children do or don’t do, treat them with respect.
- Teach your children. Children who learn about the risks of drugs and alcohol from their parents are less likely to use than those who do not.
- Know your child’s risk level. Genetics can be a risk factor in becoming addicted to drugs or alcohol. Know your child’s genetic risk and explain to them the importance of being extra vigilant.
- Understand the 5 risk factors. Help your teen understand the risk factors for developing a substance use problem. Five risk factors are early use, genetics, mental health issues, childhood trauma or ACEs (adverse childhood experiences), as well as environment.
- Have a conversation with your children. Having a conversation rather than a confrontation helps to keep a strong relationship with your child.
- Set boundaries. Make it clear that you do not want your child drinking or using drugs.
- Keep connected. Know your children’s friends and make it a point to meet their parents. Stay involved in their world.
- Be aware. Know where and who your child is with.
- Be proactive. Check backpacks, pockets, garbage cans, cars, closets, under beds for empty wrappers and other evidence of drug use.
- Be a parent. Teen years are challenging. Your child needs a parent, not a pal.
- Don’t be in denial. Don’t assume that substance abuse happens in other people’s families. It is an epidemic and can happen to your family too.
- Keep tabs on your personal prescription drugs. If you have prescription medicine in your home, know where it is, count the pills, and keep them locked away.
- Tune into your teens’ behavior. Notice if your teen is changing peer groups, and if their physical appearance is changing.
- Support their activities. Attend as many of your child’s activities as possible. Find ways for your non-athletic child to shine.
- Notice your teens emotional state. Do they seem to have a lack of self-esteem, or are they becoming uncooperative or defiant?
- Keep control of the alcohol in your home. Teens admit that alcohol is easy to find in the home. Keep your liquor unavailable to your teen.
- Encourage your child to be independent in an appropriate way. Helicopter parents can be problematic, so allow your teen to be independent in a healthy way that encourages their confidence, but maintains their safety.
- Have your teen sign a contract. Have your teen sign a contract never to drink and drive from Students Against Drunk Driving. (SADD)
- Handle your own stress in a healthy way. You send a message to your children when they observe how you handle the challenges in your life. Be healthy when facing your own stress.
- Be consistent. Set boundaries, rules and consequences and be consistent.
- Don’t be afraid to parent. Your teen needs you now, more than ever to be their parent and help them safely get through their teen years.
- Remain calm. As your child raises their voice, lower yours and remain calm.
- Safety first. Remind your children that the most important thing is their safety.
- Screen Your Child. Have your teen take a five-minute computer screening test,and discuss the results with their pediatrician.
- Discuss healthy choices early. Talk to your child often starting at about age 10 to 11 in a matter of fact way about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse.
- Learn about your child. Take the time to share your child’s interests. Learn about their hobbies and make them feel proud of their strengths.
- Plan time with your teen. Find fun things that you can do together with your teen.
- Have acceptance. Accept your children for who they are, so that their self-esteem is in tact.
- Express your love. Be sure to tell your children often, how proud you are of them and how much you love them.
Please share your thoughts with parents who are raising teens. Maybe some of these ideas will help a parent steer a young person away from drug use.
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If you want personalized mentoring or one-on-one coaching support because you have a struggling teen or young adult, contact me to set up a complimentary breakthrough consultation.
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