The key to effective substance prevention is to educate early, don’t just rely on schools to teach your child the do’s and don’ts of drugs. As a parent you can do this at home, and research has shown that the earlier you teach a child on the dangers of drugs, the more likely they are to stay away from harmful substances completely.
Even though all parents are essential influencers on their children, parents with children that are around the age of 8 to 12 are especially powerful. Kids within this age bracket usually have the right attitude towards drugs already, they should of been given the necessary information from the school or by parents themselves, and reinforcing, or even establishing their attitudes is relatively easy for parents to do.
Parents that wait to guide their children away from drugs until they are a little older tend to have a harder job of positively influencing them. This is because they will be at the age where they are increasingly influenced by their peers, the media, and might have already started experimenting with drugs and alcohol.
Maintain Communication And Trust
Maintaining trust and communication with your child makes guiding them towards positive activities and friendships much easier. As long as you have trust they should listen and take in all the guidance you have to offer. From information on the dangers and risks of drugs, to your opinions on their friends and social life. For example, if you know for a fact that one of their friends is using drugs and then warn them to be careful about trying not to get to involved with what they are doing, if you have a good relationship with your child, they should listen to what you have to say and follow your advice.
To effectively help prevent your child from abusing drugs, as a parent, you need to educate yourself on the effects, dangers, and what your child is likely to be exposed to. You don’t need to become an expert, just learn enough about the negative effects various drugs can have on someone and how they can radically change and control a persons life. Try to think of what questions they are likely to ask you when discussing the subject, and then learn the necessary facts to answer those questions.
Focus on some of the following:
- The dangers of drug abuse.
- Commonly used drugs by teenagers.
- Symptoms of drug abuse.
- Symptoms of drug addiction.
Factors That Reduce And Increase Substance Abuse
Prevention is more effective when you focus on numerous issues that can reduce substance abuse or increase it. Reducing an issue that can increase your child to use drugs can also help in other areas, including family or schooling problems. Increasing on areas where it helps reduce substance abuse will additionally help them develop a healthy lifestyle.
There are many factors in a child's/teenagers life that can reduce or increase substance abuse, they can include:
- Disorderly home environment
- Unproductive parenting
- Involvement with the wrong kind of peers
- Parents abusing substances themselves
- Under achieving in school
- Low self-esteem
- Easily acessable substances, for example alcohol and prescription drugs just laying around
- Solid family relations
- Parents engaging in child's life
- Good relationships with people that can have a positive influence on them other than parents
- Achieving good results in school
- Well educated about drugs
- Clear consequences from parents when misbehaving
Focusing on some of these factors will definitely help you with preventing drug abuse. For example, do not leave alcohol or drugs, particularly prescription drugs, lying around your home, store them in a safe place and keep them out of reach. Also the way you use drugs and alcohol around your child can play an important part on how they perceive them. If you are seen to abuse alcohol and tend to drink a lot, your children will generally consider this as normal behaviour and are likely to do the same.
Talking To Your Child About Drugs
As we have already said, start influencing your childs perception on drugs as early as you can. Remember to ensure that they understand what your are saying by using terms and words they’ll understand, and don’t just randomly bring up the topic of drugs. Try to relate it to something they are doing at the time, this will help them to listen and take on board what you have to say.
- When talking to your child about drugs it’s natural for you to not know everything and unable to answer every question. While discussing the subject, don’t pretend you know everything. It’s fine to say “I do not know but i can find out for you”.
- Be sure to pick the correct moment when you are discussing drugs with your children, look for natural opportunities as they happen. For example, when you are giving a young child some medicine you could lightly touch the subject, giving examples of good and bad drugs.
- Don’t turn the conversation into a lecture on drugs, this may put them off from any future discussions. And don’t over react or let any conversation get heated, try to remain calm and just listen when they are talking.
- Once you’ve had a conversation about drugs don’t leave it there, start from an early age and then continuously raise the subject as they develop, physically and mentally, and as they start to become more influenced by their peers and the media.
- Don’t be afraid to share your experiences with drugs and alcohol, being honest with them will encourage them to open up to you as well. Be careful not to glorify drugs or alcohol to much, try and focus on the negative effects they have had on you, but by all means, tell the full story.
As your children mature you can start asking them what their views on drugs are. By asking in a non biased and open minded manner, you’re more likely to receive an honest answer. Even if the conversation doesn’t really develop into a long discussion, it’ll definitely get them thinking about it. And by showing your child you are willing to discuss drug use and abuse, they should be more inclined to approach you on the subject in the future.
Set Effective And Clear Boundaries
Your children will benefit and appreciate the boundaries you set, although they might not seem to, it shows you care about them and they’ll know this as long as you explain why you set them in the first place.
- First you must define the boundaries, explain why you are setting them and the consequences they’ll face if they break them.
- It’s essential you stick to your word, if you do not follow through with the consequences of the boundaries when they are broken then they’ll likely to just carry on breaking them.
Also, reassure them that if they find themselves in a situation where drugs are present and they would rather not be there that you’ll find and collect them, what ever the hour.