Your child's attitudes and behaviors about drugs and alcohol are being developed and shaped right now. As a
Parent, you can do a lot to prevent you child's possible future use. The time to begin is now!
1. TALK WITH YOUR CHILD ABOUT ALCOHOL AND OTHER DRUGS. Become knowledgeable and then talk with your child about how alcohol and drugs can harm people- especially young people. Talk together frequently, and clarify any mistaken ideas, such as "everybody drinks" or "marijuana won't hurt you." Along with your spouse, communicate a clear message about family rules and consequences for use of alcohol or drugs.
2. LEARN TO REALLY LISTEN TO YOUR CHILD. Encourage your child to share his or her questions and concerns about drugs and alcohol. Listen for what is happening in his or her world. Don't do all of the talking or give long lectures.
3. HELP YOUR CHILD DEVELOP SELF-CONFIDENCE. Look for positives in your child- and then share them. When correcting, criticize the action, not the child. Praise effort as well as accomplishments.
4. HELP YOUR CHILD DEVELOP STRONG VALUES. Communicate your family values and then model these yourself. Teach your child how to make decisions based on these standards of right and wrong. Explain that these are the standards for your family, despite what other families might decide.
5. BE A GOOD EXAMPLE. Examine your own habits and attitudes about alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. Your actions speak louder than words.
6. HELP YOUR CHILD DEAL WITH PEER PRESSURE. Discuss the importance of individuality and the meaning of real friendships. Children who have been taught to be gentle and loving may need parental permission to assertively say "no" to negative peer pressure. Provide your child with some possible strategies for saying "no." The two of you can even practice these, so when the time comes, your child is ready.
7. MAKE FAMILY RULES THAT HELP YOUR CHILD SAY "NO." Discuss with your child in advance your expectations that he or she will say "no" to alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. Spell out the consequences of breaking these rules. (For example, "My parents said I'd lose my driving privileges if I drink.") Be prepared to follow through, if necessary.
8. ENCOURAGE HEALTHY, CREATIVE ACTIVITIES. Look for ways to get your child involved in satisfying hobbies, school clubs, and other activities that reduce boredom and too much free time. Encourage positive friendships and interests.
9. TEAM UP WITH OTHER PARENTS. Work with other parents to build a drug-free environment for your children. When parents join together and take a united stand against drug use, they become much more effective than if they act separately. One way is to form a parent peer group with the parents of your children's friends. The most effective way to stop a child from using drugs is to stop his or her friends from using them, too.
10. KNOW WHAT TO DO IF YOU SUSPECT A PROBLEM. Realize that no child is immune to the lure of drugs. Learn to telltale signs of alcohol and drug use. Take seriously any concerns you hear from friends, teachers, or other kids about your child's possible drug use. Trust your instincts. If you feel in your gut that something is wrong with your child, it probably is. If there's a problem, seek professional help.