The decisions your child or teenager makes will shape the adult they become. Building and maintaining a strong relationship with your child will help them to develop the skills needed to deal with peer pressure and make safe, healthy choices.
Keeping your home and your kid's environment ‘drug-free’ is a step in preventing drug and alcohol use. Here are some tips to remember:
Stay involved and interested in your teenager's life.
Take time to listen to what your teenager has to say.
Aim to keep track of what they are doing and when.
Get to know your teen's friends and their parents.
Reward your kids when they use good behaviour or make smart choices.
Be honest with your child and encourage them to be open and honest in return.
Make your expectations for their behaviour very clear, set rules and boundaries and make sure there are fair consequences if your kids do not follow them.
After school – a key time for exploration
There is often a gap in time between when teenagers and children finish school and parents are home from work. The hours from 3 p.m. - 6 p.m. are a critical time of day when youth drug and alcohol use happens.
As a parent, there are steps you can take to try to limit this risk:
- Coordinate your work hours to be home at that time.
- Have another adult or trusted friend spend time with your kids after school.
- Fill that time with community involvement, or participation in extra-curricular activities (e.g. sport teams, clubs, music lessons), or encourage your child to get a part-time job.
Talking to your child about drugs and alcohol
Although it might not be easy, or even if you are not exactly sure what to say, talking to your kids about drug and alcohol use is an important step to preventing use and experimentation. Consistent communication is one of the best tools parents can use to help their children understand the risks of drug and alcohol use and to set boundaries for their actions.