21 Parenting Tips for How to Protect Your Children From Alcohol and Other
What's the biggest deterrent to your kids' using alcohol and other drugs? It's you.
Look at the facts: Kids who
learn from their parents or caregivers about the risks of drugs are 36% less likely to
smoke marijuana than kids who don't. 50% less likely to use inhalants. 56% less likely to
use cocaine. 65% less likely to use LSD.
Still think there's
not much you can say or do? You are the most powerful influence in your child's daily
life. But anti-drug parenting strategies rarely are instinctive, even for the best of
parents. The 21 tips that follow can help you turn your child away from the drugs that
seem almost inevitable nowadays. You can do something. And you can start now.
Kids who are close to
their parents are least likely to engage in risky behaviors. The more involved you are in
your children's lives, the more valued they'll feel, and the more likely they'll be to
respond to you.
How to get involved in your childs life.
1.) Establish together
time. Establish a regular weekly routine for doing something special with your
childeven something as simple as going out for ice cream.
2.) Don't be afraid to
ask where your kids are going, who they'll be with and what they'll be doing. Get to know
your kid's friends and their parents so that you're familiar with their activities.
3.) Try to be there
after school when your child gets home. The "danger zone" for drug use is
between 4 and 6 pm, when no one's around; arrange flexible time at work if you possibly
can. If your child will be with friends, ideally they have adult supervision - not just an
4.) Eat together as
often as you can. Meals are a great opportunity to talk about the day's events, to unwind,
reinforce, bond. Studies show that kids whose families eat together at least 5 times a
week are less likely to be involved with drugs or alcohol.
1.) Be absolutely
clear with your kids that you don't want them using drugs. Ever. Anywhere. Don't leave
room for interpretation. And talk often about the dangers and results of drug and alcohol
abuse. Once or twice a year won't do it.
2.) Be a better
listener. Ask questions - and encourage them. Paraphrase what your child says to you. Ask
for their input about family decisions. Showing your willingness to listen will make your
child feel more comfortable about opening up to you.
3.) Give honest
answers. Don't make up what you don't know; offer to find out. If asked whether you've
ever taken drugs, let them know what's important: that you don't want them using drugs.
4.) Use TV reports,
anti-drug commercials, news or school discussions about drugs to help you introduce the
subject in a natural, unforced way.
5.) Don't react in a
way that will cut off further discussion. If your child makes statements that challenge or
shock you, turn them into a calm discussion of why your child thinks people use drugs, or
whether the effect is worth the risk.
6.) Role play with
your child and practice ways to refuse drugs and alcohol in different situations.
Acknowledge how tough these moments can be.
Walk the walk tips.
1.) Be a living,
day-to-day example of your value system. Show the compassion, honesty, generosity and
openness you want your child to have.
2.) Know that there is no such thing as "do as I say, not as I do" when it comes
to drugs. If you take drugs, you can't expect your child to take your advice. Seek
professional help if necessary.
3.) Examine your own behavior. If you abuse drugs or alcohol, know that your kids are
inevitably going to pick up on it. Or if you laugh uproariously at a movie when someone is
drunk or stoned, what message does that send to your child?
Create structure and expectations by communicating rules and consequences.
1.) Create rules and
discuss in advance the consequences of breaking them. Make your expectations clear. Don't
make empty threats or let the rule-breaker off the hook. Don't impose harsh or unexpected
2.) Set a curfew. And
enforce it strictly. Be prepared to negotiate for special occasions.
3.) Have kids check in
at regular times. Give them a phone card, change or even a pager, with clear rules for
using it. (Remember, pagers are not allowed in some schools.)
4.) Call parents whose
home is to be used for a party. On party night, don't be afraid to stop in to say hello
(and make sure that adult supervision is in place).
5.) Make it easy to
leave a party where drugs are being used. Discuss in advance how you or another designated
adult will come to pick your child up the moment he or she feels uncomfortable. Later, be
prepared to talk about what happened.
6.) Listen to your
instincts. Don't be afraid to intervene if your gut reaction tells you that something is
Tips for encouragement.
1.) Reward good
behavior consistently and immediately. Expressions of love, appreciation and thanks go a
long way. Even kids who think themselves too old for hugs will appreciate a pat on the
back or a special treat.
2.) Accentuate the
positive. Emphasize the things your kid does right. Restrain the urge to be critical.
Affection and respect - making your child feel good about himself - will reinforce good
(and change bad) behavior far more successfully than embarrassment or uneasiness.
chemical dependency as well as its toxic impact on family members. Raise your
children to choose to be alcohol and other drugs
free. Learn how
to in Dr. Frischs, Psy.D. Recovery book seriesFrom Insanity to Serenity.