Parenting Drug Free Kids
5 Lessons For Parents
Lay the ground work early, don’t wait until you have a teenager to start addressing the issue of addiction
1. Communication-Do all you can to keep an open conversation between you and your child. Children who lack a connection with a loving parent or adult are at a greater risk for substance abuse. Encourage your child to come to you with difficult or uncomfortable topics. Be sure they are aware of how you feel about using drugs or alcohol. Setting expectations early in a child’s life, decreases the likelihood of alcohol or drug abuse in the teen years.
2. Develop an Emotional Vocabulary-Allow children to express their emotions while they are experiencing the feelings. All to often, parents squelch or dismiss their children’s expressions of sadness or anger. Validate what your child is feeling without judgment. Encourage your child to use words to express what it is they are feeling. Substance abuse in teens often goes hand in hand with mental health issues. Anxiety and depression often arise in teens when they are unable to manage their emotions.
3. Parents as Role Models-Remember your children are watching you. If you are using drugs or alcohol to manage your own life stressors, chances are your teen will too. Model the kind of behavior you want from your children. Emphasize positive self care such as exercise, sleep, meditation or counseling.
4. Pay Attention-I often hear parents say they had no idea their teen was abusing drugs or alcohol. However, after taking a closer look, there were many signs. A change in their social group, physical appearance, school grades and temperament are often some of the first signs a parent will see. Don’t ignore or rationalize obvious signs, as early intervention can safe a life. Make sure your child knows you are listening and paying attention to them.
5. Set Clear Rules–Don’t wait until the teenage years. Start the conversation about drugs and alcohol when your children are young. As your child ages, communicate the risks both physical and psychological that alcohol and drugs can have on them. Make sure your child knows what your family values are by setting clear expectations, limits and consequences, in relation to alcohol and drug use.