Drugs & Alcohol: Top 5 Conversations to Have With Your Kids in 2011

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With a whole new year ahead of us, you’re probably asking yourself what you can do different and better in 2011?

Caron Treatment Centers suggests that this year, parents focus on what really matters—family. How can you help your child feel healthy, happy and loved? Having open and regular conversations with your child about the key issues they may be facing as a tween or teen is one of the best strategies for preventing your kid from going down a bad path.

We know that having these conversations are not easy and it can be overwhelming thinking about where to start. In a series of five blog posts, we will educate you on these important conversations and share tips for how to best approach them with your child to ensure they are productive and engaging.

Conversation 1: Drugs and Alcohol

A recent study by Monitoring the Future found that marijuana and ecstasy use is on the rise among teens. It’s never too early to start talking to your child about this very serious issue, and here are some tips for how to go about it:

  • Discuss the physical consequences: Detail the health risks and other negative consequences related to marijuana and other drug use, rather than focusing on the moral issue. Teens are very concerned with their physical appearance, so if they believe a substance will impair their looks and health, they may be less likely to be tempted.
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  • Make sure they know the rules: Remind your child that drug and alcohol use is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 and that it’s also very dangerous. Communicate a firm zero tolerance policy for drug and alcohol use.
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  • Role play: Act out scenes where your teen or tween is offered drugs or alcohol, and help them determine ways to say no. Urge them not to continue friendships with peers who use drugs or alcohol.
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  • Adults only: Reinforce that drinking alcohol is an adult privilege and it’s OK to enjoy a glass of wine in moderation as an adult, but abusing it is never acceptable at any age.
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  • Tie-in the future: Emphasize how drugs and alcohol can affect your child’s future, such as ruining their chance of getting into a good college or having their dream career. Give examples of real consequences— such as if you get caught drinking most schools will remove you from extracurricular activities.
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  • Use positive reinforcement: Compliment your child for the healthy choices he/she makes. Let them know that you notice their behavior, and if there are siblings, commend them on being a positive role model.
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What tips and advice do you have for educating your kids about drugs and alcohol?

Check back next Wednesday for the second of five top conversations to have with your kids in 2011. And for more parenting tips and tools, please visit http://www.caron.org/parenting-tips-and-tools.html.

Image courtesy of caica.org.

Tammy Granger is Caron’s Regional Director of Student Assistance Programs for Caron Treatment Centers. As such, she manages Student Assistance Services in the Northeast region in private and public schools as well as colleges and universities.

Caron’s Student Assistance Program currently reaches more than 60,000 students, teachers and parents annually.

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