Reducing the Risks:
A Tip Sheet for Parents
you can help your child avoid the risks of
becoming involved with alcohol and other drugs. Here is a start.
Key Things You Can Do
1. Talk with your children about the dangers of alcohol and drugs. Nearly half the young people in a recent nationwide poll said they wished they could discuss this topic more with their parents. You don't have to pretend you know all the answers. In fact, working with your children to find answers can build trust and confidence.
2. Help build your children's self-confidence and self-respect. Praise them when they do something well. This could be a simple job they do around the house, such as setting the table, or receiving a good grade on a school paper. Also, give them responsibilities. These could include being in charge of keeping their room clean or budgeting their allowance from week to week. Children who feel good about who they are have the inner strength to resist negative peer pressure.
3. Know your children's friends and their parents. You don't have to pry, just show your natural interest. If you are troubled by the choice of new friends, talk with your children about them. Find our what these new friends seem to offer. What appeals to your children and why?
4. Find out about the extent of alcohol and other drug use in the schools and in your community. Form a support group with other parents to share information and ideas. Your PTA leader can help you to begin a support group.
5. Make peer pressure work for you. Encourage your children to join with others to form groups or teams that promote positive values and healthy activities. These could include a variety of activities such as sports, arts and crafts sessions, trips to museums, and hikes through the countryside.
6. Help your children learn to make decisions as part of the family. Involve your children in helping to plan a family gathering, an activity or a vacation. Practice in making these kinds of decisions will give them more authority and help them feel more in control of their lives.
7. Work will your children to counter media images that glamorize the use of alcohol or other drugs. This includes records and music videos as well as TV programs and commercials. Don't put down your child's taste in music or TV; instead, find out what the appeal is and encourage your child to really look at the messages. Are they good or could they be harmful? Do they make drinking or using drugs look like fun?
8. Encourage your children to take part in healthy, enjoyable activities. Support programs in the school and the community. Volunteer your time for children's groups. Work with other parents to press community leaders to create more programs and facilities for young people. Most importantly, take part in activities or hobbies with your children.
9. Know the warning signs of a child at risk, such as a sudden and sharp decline in school work; a lack of interest in favorite activities; trouble sleeping or sleeping at unusual times; turning away from family and usual friends. If the problem seems serious, seek help.
10. .Spend time with your children. Feelings of affection and trust may be your children's strongest allies. Do things with them such as playing catch, going to a science, museum, viewing a movie, playing cards or games, or going for a walk or bike ride together. Give them a hug. Let them know you love them.