Without question, talking to your child about substance use is extremely important in our efforts to protect our kids from alcohol and drugs. But there are other things that we need to do as parents to be effectively involved in preventing alcohol and drug problems for our kids and in our families.
Recent scientific research has found that the longer an individual postpones the onset (first use) of alcohol, tobacco or other drug use, the less likely the individual is to develop an addiction or other lifelong problems, including depression.
Believe it or not, parents are the most powerful influence on their kids when it comes to drugs. Recent research has found that 2 out of 3 kids ages 13-17 say that losing their parents' respect is one of the main reasons they don't drink alcohol, smoke marijuana or use other drugs.
Tips for Parents:
1) Don’t Be Afraid to be the “Bad” Parent: Sometimes, our fear of negative reaction from our kids keeps us from doing what is right. When it comes to alcohol and drugs, taking a tough stand can help our children to say no….“my mom or my dad would kill me if I drank or used.” Our decisions and our rules allow our child to use us as “the reason” for not using alcohol or drugs.
2) Connect With Your Child’s Friends: Pay attention to who your child is hanging out with, who’s coming to the house and get to know them. Encourage your child’s friends to come to your home, invite them for dinner and make them feel welcomed. Encourage your child to invite friends over to the house.
3) Make Connections With Other Parents Too: As you get to know your kids friends, take the opportunity to introduce yourself to his/her parents. It’s a great way to build mutual support and share your rules about alcohol and drugs. And, it will make it easier for you to call if your son/daughter is going to a party at their house to make sure that there will be responsible parental supervision.
4) Promote Healthy Activities: Help your kids, and their friends, learn how to have fun, and fight off the dreaded “I’m bored.” Physical games, activities and exercise are extremely important because of the positive physical and mental benefits. Encourage kids to become engaged in other school and community activities such as music, sports, arts or a part-time job.
5) Establish Clear Family Rules About Alcohol and Drugs: Setting specific, clear rules is the foundation for parental efforts in prevention, some ideas: * Kids under 21 will not drink alcohol * Kids will not ride in a car with someone who has been drinking or using drugs * Older brothers and sisters will not encourage younger kids to drink or use drugs * Kids under 21 will not host parties at our home without parental supervision * Kids will not stay at a kid’s party where alcohol or drugs are present. Consistent enforcement of the rules, with consequences, if needed is essential. Without consequences the rules have no value and will not work.
6) Get Educated About Alcohol and Drugs: You cannot rely on your own personal experiences or common sense to carry you through. Your ability to provide family leadership in prevention requires you to be better educated.
7) Be a Role Model and Set a Positive Example: Bottom line…. from a kid’s perspective,what you do is more important than what you say! Research studies show that parents who drink alcohol or use drugs are more likely to have kids who drink or use. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation; if you use medication, use only as directed, and do not use illegal drugs. If you host a party, always serve alternative non-alcoholic beverages and do not let anyone drink and drive.
8) Keep Track of Your Child’s Activities: Asking questions, keeping track, checking in are all important. Research has found that young people who are not regularly monitored by their parents are four times more likely to use alcohol or drugs. Make the time to know what is happening in your child’s life – especially in families where both parents work outside of the home, life is busy but you must find time for your children – know what they are up to!
9) Keep Track of Alcohol and Prescription Drugs: For kids, the most common source of alcohol and prescription drugs is parents. Make sure that your home is not a source of alcohol or prescription drugs for your kids or their friends.
10) Get Help!: If at any point you suspect that your child is having a problem with alcohol and/or drugs, get help. Don’t wait. You are not alone. AS A PARENT, YOU CAN HELP PREVENT YOUR CHILD FROM BECOMING ADDICTED TO ALCOHOL OR DRUGS. TAKING ACTION IS PREVENTION
It’s Time To Talk …
About Your Teen's Developing Brain
There are a lot of reasons why parenting a teen can be challenging. Increased hormones and developing adolescent brain are part of the reasons why you’re teen’s moods and behaviors swing so dramatically. Did you know that research has shown that the brain does not fully mature until the age of 25!
You may have also heard that the part of the adolescent brain which controls reasoning and impulses develops during these later years. This development and raging hormones can shift your teen's emotions into overdrive, leading to unpredictable - and sometimes risky behavior. Does any of this sound familiar?
- Difficulty holding back or controlling emotions - (easily irritated or upset)
- Preference for high excitement and low effort activities - (video games)
- Poor planning and judgment - (rarely thinking of possible negative consequences),
- Risky, impulsive behaviors - (including experimenting with alcohol, tobacco and other drugs)
Because teens have an over-active impulse to seek pleasure and less ability to consider the consequences, they are especially vulnerable. Don’t FIGHT it, GUIDE it!
Especially now during these days stuck in the house, urge your teen to take “healthy risks”. Help them seek out activities such as organized sports, laser tag, ice skating, snowboarding, sledding, swimming, indoor rock climbing, music, and the arts.
Not only will it help to form positive lifestyle habits, it will help them burn some energy and create excitement!
For more information go to www.theparenttoolkit.org
It’s Time To Talk …
About Keeping Up with Your Teen's Use of Technology
Is your tween sporting a set of headphones, watching videos on their new tablet, or listening to music on their new phone? Young teens use their electronic gadgets to connect with each other and to keep up with popular culture. So just about the time your kid is tuning you out, you need to be more aware of what is filling their heads.
Did you know that popular artists including Rihanna, Miley Cyrus, Nicki Minaj and Kanye West have all referred to the drug “Molly” in their songs? “Molly” is basically the same as the Ecstasy of the '90s but rebranded as a purer, gentler party drug. Additionally, and not particularly surprising, a recent study of hit recordings finds nearly a quarter of them mention brand name alcohol, including the popular song “Royals” by Lorde. Consider doing the following:
- Review the history on your teen’s electronics
- Put on their headphones and actually listen to the music
- If you don’t know what it means, go to www.lyrics.com
- Check out www.urbandictionary.com
- Talk to your kids regularly about what they hear, and your expectations for their choices
UCDFC Partners with Local Businesses to Reduce Youth Alcohol Use
The Union County Drug Free Coalition is partnering with local businesses that sell alcohol to remind their customers, "We Don't Serve Teens". We know that underage drinking is not only illegal, it can also lead to serious health and safety issues for our teens.
Rick Carder, owner of the Marysville Short Stop, was happy to put that message on the front door of his store. "I'm happy to help. We don't want kids drinking," said Carder. Local businesses have an opportunity to restrict access to alcohol and check identification to reduce underage drinking.
Although alcohol is typically downplayed as a serious drug, alcohol is the number one drug of choice among youth. In Union County, 36.1% of 11th grade students indicated they had consumed alcohol in the past 30 days. Over half of those surveyed who reported drinking in the past 30 days also reported having used alcohol on three or more occasions during that same period. These results were taken from the 2012 Union County Youth Risk Behavior Survey.
The Union County Drug Free Coalition is grateful to our local business partners who are doing their part to help youth choose healthy behaviors and stay drug free.
It’s Time To Talk …
About Alcohol and Drugs
Social media sites to connect with peers have become very popular among adults and youth alike. Teens post text and pictures to express themselves and share about their lives. But more important than your teen having “likes” or “followers” there is a critical need to connect with you, the parent. Reading your child’s “tweets” or watching their video posts may keep you in the loop, but it doesn’t take the place of face-to-face time. Your connection with your child will serve as a backdrop to their relationships and decisions in the present and in the future, including the decision not to use alcohol and other drugs.
Did you know that, on average, 42% of 7th, 9th and 11th grade students in Union County reported that their parents talked to them "never" or “seldom” talked to them about alcohol and drugs? (2012 Union County YRBS)
The average age for a teen to try alcohol, tobacco or other drugs for the first time is 13. But you can help your teen stay healthy and drug-free. Kids who learn about the risks of drugs from their parents are up to 50 percent less likely to use. (2007 Partnership Attitude Tracking Study) So, most importantly, stay involved. Young teens may say they don't need your guidance, but they're much more open to it than they'll ever let on. Here’s how you can stay connected:
Spend Time hanging out together. It will give insight into what is going on with friends and school.
Include Friends of your child in fun activities. Get to know their parents too.
Listen to what your child says first. They want to feel like what they say matters to you without hearing your advice first.
Talk early and often with them about your family rules to not use alcohol and drugs.
Be Clear about your expectations and the possible consequences.
Adolescence is a time of many changes and big decision-making. Be sure to talk regularly, remain engaged in your child’s everyday life and continuously strive to strengthen the connection. A strong and positive relationship now will serve you and your child both today and down the road.
Check out the video below, and browse ucdrugfree.org to find more ways to keep your children safe and drug free.
You can find additional information at www.theparenttoolkit.org.