When it comes to teen drug use, an ounce of prevention is worth so much more than a pound of cure. Share these tips with your child and set up a home that is drug and alcohol free for them and their friends.
1. Be there for your teen when he needs to get out of a bad situation. Be the scapegoat: ‘I can’t do that, my parents would kill me!’ Or be the parent who will pick up your teen without repercussions if he finds the party he’s gone to has drugs or alcohol. Set consequences BEFORE your child has to make a choice to use or not.
2. Get to know your teen’s friends and their parents on a first name basis. JOIN THE LAWRENCE PARENT DIRECTORY (see the link on the right). This will help you know what your teen is doing and you may make a good friend to boot! Get those parents together for a discussion on expectations and communication strategies. Our kids are well connected- so too should we.
3. Keep connected in the after school hours. If you can’t be home with your teen, call and leave notes. Have another adult supervise your teen or sign him up for an after school program. If these things aren’t possible, establish a routine for your teenager and keep him busy during this time. Make a plan now for summer activities.
4. Talk to your teen early and often about drugs and alcohol. Use ice breakers from this web site, television shows or the radio in the car. Remember these are conversations, not lectures.
5. Get your teen involved in extra-curricular activities. Schools offer sports or clubs and community organizations offer classes and youth groups. These will help him mold his identity in a positive way and give him less time doing nothing and becoming bored. Studies have shown teens that have less time to just hang out are less likely to do drugs.
6. Ask questions when your teen makes plans to go out. Who will he be with, where is he going, what will he be doing, etc. Then check up on him. Call other parents and do this together. Set a curfew.
7. Be a role model. If you drink, drink responsibly - and don’t ever use illegal drugs. Lock your liquor and medicine cabinets. Keep the temptation away.
8. Unite your family against drugs using strong family beliefs. Establish that your family doesn’t use drugs. Not that you will shun your child should he make a mistake, but that your family believes there are other healthier ways to enjoy life and fix problems rather than escaping into a drug haze. Keep your message consistent, no drugs, no special occasions for underage drinking.
9. Connect with your teen by doing things together as a family. Make this a routine outing and have your teen help plan it. Eat family meals together. Studies have shown that kids who enjoy dinner together with their parents on a normal basis are less likely to become involved with drugs.
10. Drop any baggage you may be carrying. Don’t allow the mistakes you made as a teenager or young adult to influence your teen in a negative way. Tap into the mature adult you’ve become and let the past go. We don't want them saying, "I'm just glad I lived through my teen years!"