Four Ways Parents Can Help Prevent Teen Drug Abuse
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the risk of abusing drugs grows higher during adolescence. Kids are making their transition into adulthood and are stuck within this period of time. Teens might find that if they move to a new area or switch schools, they may turn to drugs to help cope. Teens face new and difficult situations as they go through elementary and middle school. This can be where adolescents might have their first encounter with addictive substances. The NIDA says the possibility of coming into contact with illegal substances only increases once adolescents begin high school.
There steps you can take to try to minimize the risk of drug abuse in the lives of your children:
1.) Communicate with them. Making sure you speak with your kids consistently is key. If you know what is going on within their lives, you can provide guidance and direct them toward better ways to spend their time. Conversing with your children about their opinions on topics of the day may help them feel more comfortable around you as they grow older. You may wish to be ready to speak with your kids as early as fourth grade about the temptations of drugs.
2.) Enforce rules. Rules exist for a reason. As they become adolescents, kids might begin testing those rules. They may want to exercise their own independence increasingly with age and might be less willing to follow what their parents tell them. This is where you need to be strong and steadfast in the rules you put down for your kids. You do not want them disobeying you. Making sure there are consequences for disobeying your rules may help them avoid repeating their behavior in the future.
3.) Be a good role model. You want to be someone your child can look up to. According to the National Crime Prevention Council, children often will imitate the behavior of their parents. It is a natural thing, since children are around their parents often. If you choose not to smoke, drink moderately, and abstain from drug use, your child may follow suit because of the positive example you’ve set.
4.) Guide them in choosing friends. Selecting friends can be a tough thing for an adolescent. Many people want to be a part of the popular group. It may be very tough for children to reject their desire to be with the cool kids who are doing drugs and drinking. However, pointing the fact out those kids are putting their lives in danger may be a sobering fact to remind your child. You may consider helping them learn about what positive character traits to look for in a person.
At the end of the day, you want your child to make good decisions for the rest of their lives. This is what prevention of drug abuse comes down to, choices. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, by utilizing criticism and praise, you can position your child on the path to make good decisions for the rest of his or her life.
About the author: Tommy Zimmer is a writer whose work has appeared online and in print. His work covers a variety of topics, including politics, economics, health and wellness, addiction and recovery, and the entertainment industry.