As we continue providing resources and information during Substance Abuse Prevention Month, this week’s post is for parents.
Parents, are you giving away your influence when it comes to drugs and alcohol use among children?
The following advice from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) will help you learn effective ways to speak to your child about the dangers of drugs and alcohol. By learning to communicate and be actively involved in educating and supervising children, we can prevent substance abuse and addiction for teens and young adults.
Family Checkup: Positive Parenting Prevents Drug Abuse
Research supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has shown the important role that parents play in preventing their children from starting to use drugs. To help parents have positive conversations with their children about substance abuse and drugs, the NIDA worked with the Child and Family Center (CFC) at the University of Oregon, to develop a communication and supervision guide that emphasizes the parenting skills that are important in preventing the initiation and progression of drug use among youth.
Here is a brief overview of the CFC’s plan that focuses on the 5 main areas of Communication, Encouragement, Negotiation, Setting Limits and Supervision.
Good communication between parents and children is the foundation of strong family relationships. Developing good communication skills helps parents catch problems early, support positive behavior, and stay aware of what is happening in their children’s lives.
Encouragement is key to building confidence and a strong sense of self and helps parents to promote cooperation and reduce conflict. Many successful people remember the encouragement of a parent, teacher, or other adult. Consistent encouragement helps youth feel good about themselves and gives them confidence to try new activities, develop new friendships, tackle difficult tasks, and explore their creativity.
Also a part of communication, by negotiating solutions, parents remain in control while working with their children to solve problems, make changes, promote and improve cooperation, and teach them how to focus on solutions and understand possible outcomes of behavior.
4. SETTING LIMITS
This part of the communication plan involves the “B” word, “Boundaries.” As parents, we influence right and wrong behaviors by setting boundaries or limits for our children. The Family Checkup explains that setting limits helps parents teach self-control and responsibility, show caring, and provide safe boundaries. It also provides youth with guidelines and teaches them the importance of following rules. This is a two-step process detailed in the plan involves setting clear rules with consequences as well as following up.
Next to communication, we believe supervision is the second most important key to preventing substance abuse among children. The Family Checkup provides practical ways to supervise not only your child, but also their friends. As many parents have experienced, our children are being heavily influenced by people and exposures outside of the home, so we have to go a step further by being involved in who are children are hanging out with.
The Family Checkup states that Supervision is the centerpiece of effective parenting during childhood. When youth begin to spend more and more time away from home, monitoring their behavior and whereabouts is challenging. Supervision helps parents recognize developing problems, promote safety, and stay involved. The plan offers the following 4 C’s to help parents learn effective ways to supervise children:
– Clear Rules
– Constant Communication
– Checking Up
As substance abuse treatment providers, we have witnessed first hand the impact that parents have on preventing substance abuse. Because our children are exposed to so many things that are not always within our control, we owe it to them to let them know that we are here for them and willing to openly communicate and share with them about drugs and alcohol. We also have to be willing to let them know we love them enough to set boundaries, establish values and supervise them. The good news is we don’t have to figure this out alone.
We encourage you to visit the NIDA website to access the complete Family Checkup:
Positive Parenting Prevents Drug Abuse Guide to help make it a little easier to talk to your children about the risks and consequences of substance abuse. [Click here to access the guide]