By Jessica Galloway
Director, Kuna Alcohol and Drug Free Youth
You can help your child navigate through all of the mixed messages and misinformation about drug and alcohol abuse. Check out these five tips:
1. Get informed: Take time to inform yourself about all the different types of drugs and their dangers.
Parents, you need to help your child distinguish between fact and fiction. They are hearing more about it from their classmates than from you.
The more you know about drugs and what is happening in the lives of their children, the easier it will be to initiate a discussion about this difficult subject. Visit our website for more information.
2. Talk to your child (early and often): National studies show that most children first start experimenting with drugs or alcohol around the age of eleven or twelve (use TV episodes as examples, take time in the car while you are driving, etc.)
Speak up! You can start by asking some casual questions.
Keep the conversation relaxed and informal. This will help your child open up. Brace yourself.They may know more than you think.
3. Listen: Find an everyday, informal moment, and just bring it up. Ask questions about what they know and just sit back and listen to their answers.
Your children are more willing to talk to you when you are more willing to just listen. Send the message that you value their time and opinion.
4. Teach your kids boundaries: Learning to set boundaries is an important part of growing up. Making good choices in life is the foundation of a healthy, happy life.
Your children need you to: 1. Teach them how to deal with difficult situations, 2. Explain what the consequences are, and 3. Follow through with that consequence. A good rule of thumb – match the rule with the value system you are setting for them. For example, if honesty is one of the value systems in your home, set up a rule about lying, and stick to the consequence when it is broken.
5. Spend some quality time: One of the best predictors of substance abuse among children is how involved their parents are in their daily activities.
This fact is especially true for fathers. Drugs and alcohol often serve as surrogates for children who experience a lack of love and connection to their family.
Involved, responsible, and committed parents need to step into that void and raise children who are less likely to use drugs. For more information about Kuna Alcohol Drug Free Youth, please visit www.kadfy.org.