Preteens have a strong desire for their peers to accept them. Being part of a group often becomes more important than making the right decisions. Pressure to use drugs and alcohol can be overwhelming for a preteen who is trying to fit in. Parents can help guide their preteen child on how to avoid using drugs and alcohol.
When kids feel good about themselves, they are more likely to make good choices, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. You can help your child have high self-esteem by telling her that you are proud of her. If she fails in something, be there for her, and urge her to keep trying.
Spending Time Together
Spend time with your child, and listen to him. It may seem like he doesn’t need you anymore, but he still does. Keep up with daily events in your preteen’s life. Get to know his friends. You can’t always judge children by how they look. Ask your child to invite them over. Suggest he join extracurricular activities if he isn’t already involved in one. The more involved children are in sports, faith-based activities or school clubs, the less likely they are to use drugs and alcohol, according to SAMHSA.
Something as seemingly simple as eating dinner together as a family can help your child stay away from drugs and alcohol, according to the Family Education website. Family dinners tend to mean that parents have an organized lifestyle. Family dinners are traditionally the time where parents can take an interest in the daily lives of their children. If you never eat together as a family because you are too busy, you may want to consider changing your priorities.
Be the kind of parent that your child can approach. Let her know that she can be honest with you. Do not make her feel afraid to come to you. If she has tried drugs or alcohol and then tells you about it, chances are good that she will be receptive to you teaching her ways she can get out of the situation in the future. Rehearse some things your child can say when her friends bring out drugs and alcohol. She can tell her friends that she doesn’t want to get into trouble, for example.
Teaching About Drugs and Alcohol
Tell your child that alcohol gets absorbed in the bloodstream and affects the brain and spinal cord. Your child’s brain is still developing, so drinking is particularly dangerous for children. Let your child know that if he drinks too much, he can get alcohol poisoning, which can cause seizures or even death. Don’t forget to remind him that he can get arrested for underage drinking.
Illegal drugs can have serious side effects as well. The type of drug determines the side effects. Let your preteen know that many drugs are addictive. Even over-the-counter drugs, such as cough and cold medicines, can harm your child if taken in large quantities. Inhaling household products, such as glue, paint thinner or hair spray, can cause a severe toxic reaction and death.
You need to be firm in your rules against your preteen using drugs and alcohol. Tell your child that she cannot hang around people who do use drugs and alcohol. You can’t stop her from seeing those friends at school, but let her know that they are not welcome in your house. Your child should know how firm your position is about this. Don’t cave by allowing your child to have a beer, for example, as long as she is at home. This gives your child a mixed message.
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