The Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey lists 8 tips to help open up the lines of communication with your child(ren) to help prevent substance abuse
- Its important to take time to listen to your kids. Try to find time to be with your child when he or she asks to talk to you. Try to avoid saying "in just a minute" or "not right now". Devote your attention to what your son or daughter is saying because kids know when you're pretending to listen.
- Some ideas for good listnening:
- - Ask open-ended questions that encourage conversation
- - Avoid asking questions that kids can answer with a simply YES or NO
- - Tap into what your child is good at by having them teach you
- You've listened and you've thought about what to say. Now comes the tough part - finding the words to say and actually starting the conversation. You don't have to follow a script word for word. Find your own words and find times and places that are comfortable for you to talk, like in the car, on walks, or during a meal
- Tips to help you improve communication:
- -Get into the habit of talking to your kids everyday
- - Create realistic situations where kids can practice refusing drugs and alcohol
- - Use events and circumstances in the media and daily life as opportunties to begin a conversation
- - Make it a point to praise and reward your child for his or her unique qualities and talents as often as you can
3) SETTING THE RULES
- Research shows that young people are less likely to use drugs if their parents set CLEAR rules
- Don't leave your kids guessing
- Tell them very clearly that you don't want them using alcohol or illegal drugs
- Appreciate your child's individuality. Allow your child to express his or her uniqueness
- Monitor your child's activities. Get to know his or her friends, as well as the friends' parents.
- Be a positive role model. Make healthy decisions regarding your own use of alcohol and perscription drugs
4) LIMITS (Risky situations)
- Part of what you can do as a parent is to set limits. Provide guidance on what to do when your kids are in a risky situation.
- "I'm you parent, I want to keep you safe, and I'm going to ask you questions about who you're with and what you're doing bcause I care about you"
- Ask your children what they would say or do in a risky situation. Give them examples of what they can say to someone who is using drugs. Try to role play risky situations
- Remember, kids need their own language to help them stay away from drugs. Help them develo their own vocabulary
5) TRUTH (Did you ever do drugs?)
- Experts agree that it's best to be honest. It is suggested that answering untruthfully can cause you to lose credibility with your kids if they ever discover that you've lied to them. You may decide that the time in not right to discuss the tpic. Provide an appropriate answer based on your child's level of maturity.
WHEN THIS QUESTION IS ASKED, BEAR IN MIND:
- - Questions about your past drug use can be a signal that your child is curious, has been exposed or has tried a substance
- - Use the question as an opportunity for discussion. Find out what your child already knows about drugs
- - When you are ready to talk, you don't need to go into detail. Give short, honest answers.
- - If you've never experimented, share that truth as well. Offer refusal skills that worked for both you or other ways you found to deal with peer pressure
6) SIGNS (Be alert)
- Risky behavior
- Slipping grades, lateness, skipping classes
- Fights with family/friends
- Change in friends
- Change in mood, eating or sleeping patterns
- Depression/less motivation
- Missing prescription or over-the-counter medications
- Trouble with the law
- Increased candle, incense or air freshener use
- Secretive, deceptive, or manipulative behavior
- Neglecting appearance or hygiene
- Sudden change in weight
- Slurred speech
- Skin abrasions
- Chemical smell on breath or clothing
- Glassy or red eyes
- Drug paraphernalia
7) DRINKING (It's only Alcohol)
- For young people, alchol is the number one drug of choice. Many parents do not think their children are drinking yet. However research shows that the average age of first use is now 11 years olda nd nearly half of New Jersey 7th and 8th grade students have tried alcohol.
- Even if your child is not drinking, he or she may be receiving pressure to drink from the media, peers, and other sources. Parents can have a major impact on their child's attitude towards alcohol, especially during adolescent years.
- - Children who begin drinking before age 21 are more than twice as likely to develop alcohol-related problems. Those who begin drinking before age 15 are four times likelier to become alcoholics than those who did not drink before age 21
- - Kids who drink are more likely to be victims of violent crimes including rape, aggravated assault and robbery. Many children do not know that alcohol impairs judgement and adolescent drinkers are more likely to engae in hazardous activities
8) ACTIONS (If there is a problem)
- If you suspect that your child is using alcohol or other drugs, TAKE APPROPRIATE ACTION
- Have a conversation with your child, recognizing you may not get honest answers. Talk to someone you truth. There are individuals in your community who can help and offer advice including:
- - Local prevention specialists
- - Family Physician
- - Relgious institutions
- - Employee Assistance program