As a parent, it is natural to wonder what is going on in your child’s life. Of all of the questions a parent may have, the biggest is how to protect your child from drug abuse.
Parents may avoid subject if they are not sure what to say. According to the New York State Department of Health, about 31 percent of teenagers actually learn from their parents about the dangers of drug use. Luckily, there are ways to prevent abuse.
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These days, many children are turning to their parents’ medicine cabinet for prescription drugs. More than 4.5 million children have reported abusing prescription drugs, the NYS Department of Health reported. Know what is in your cabinet and lock it. The same goes for alcohol. Be aware of what you have and keep it out of sight and in a place your child cannot access it.
As children get older, it may be harder to stay involved, but it is important for a parent to be there physically as well as emotionally. Attend events that involve your child, like a sports game or a recital. Also, lend your emotional support by asking about your child’s day and letting him or her know that you are there for support if your child seems upset. Your presence will allow for open lines of communication, making your child feel more comfortable discussing problems and asking questions. It will also allow you to see what is going on in your child’s life and get to know the friends and other children he or she is socializing with.
Though you may not realize it, your behavior impacts your child more than you know. Set examples of having fun without alcohol. Do not discuss stories of alcohol or drug use when you were young unless they come with a lesson. If you take a lighthearted approach toward stories involving you, your child may think that he or she should follow suit, or that you would not be upset if he or she abused substances.
Sometimes parents make rules unclear or enforce them too harshly, causing children to react negatively or rebel. Set warranted ground for bad behavior and talk about the rules with your child to make sure he or she understands them. Like any behavior, reward your child for acting appropriately and enforce punishment if he or she behaves poorly. If a child understands and respects your limits, he or she will be less likely to push them.
Aside from setting a good example, it is imperative to address the topic of drugs and alcohol early on. Be informed and clear. Discuss the harmful effects of alcohol and drugs on the body as well as the legal consequences associated with them. The Partnership at Drugfree.org reported that children who learn about the dangers of substance abuse from parents are up to 50 percent less likely to abuse drugs and alcohol. Let your child know your feelings about using drugs or alcohol and share an example of a time when you refused drugs or alcohol. Outline what you said and what good came out of the situation. A clear example may help a child understand what to do when a situation presents itself. If you suspect your child is abusing drugs or alcohol, seek guidance and get help through an addiction treatment center.