Keeping a child drug-free begins in the home, yet many parents don’t know how to keep their children away from illicit substances. Today’s parents probably grew up with the “Just Say No” campaign that was a part of the war on drugs, but that didn’t take into account how complicated drug abuse and addiction can really be.
You obviously know your children better than anybody else, but you can still keep these five tips in mind if you need some extra help.
Model Positive Behavior
You can tell your children that drugs are dangerous and why they should stay away from them, but that doesn’t do a lot of good if you have a substance abuse problem yourself. Having an addiction isn’t entirely your fault, but you should still seek treatment for yourself if you don’t want to look like a hypocrite. The same goes for any other potentially risky behaviors that you might engage in. Your children will do as you do and not as you say, so make sure that your behavior remains positive.
Open Your Home to Your Child’s Friends
Young people often begin using drugs because of their peers, but you cannot control who your child keeps as friends all the time. What you can do is open your home to them and be involved in their lives. This will not only allow you to keep track of which ones might lead your child to risky behaviors, but you might become a positive role model to someone besides your own children.
Don’t Let Kids Self-Medicate
When we tell you not to let children self-medicate, we mean more than just allow them to take medicine on their own. Self-medication can take many forms, from staring at a smartphone at all times to playing too many video games in order to escape from school stress or bullying. Anything that can be used as a coping mechanism has the potential to become an addiction. It can lead to substance abuse problems for those with an addictive personality.
Children and teens who participate in extracurricular activities such as sports are less likely to engage in substance abuse. Not only does it keep them busy enough to prevent them from seeking out drugs and alcohol, but it gives them an outlet for their energy and creativity and allows them to better socialize with their peers. Speak with your child about any sports or other activities they might find interesting. If their activity of choice isn’t offered through their school, there is bound to be an opportunity to get involved with it elsewhere in your community.
Be Open and Honest
Part of the reason why so many anti-drug programs fail is because they aren’t always honest with children and teens about what substance abuse is about. They often try too hard to scare children away from drugs simply by saying how bad they are, but they don’t always go into details about their effects. If you really want your children to stay away from drugs, let them know what happens when they are used, both the “good” and the bad. If you don’t know, then take some time to educate yourself.
Overall, the best way to keep children away from drugs is to keep on communicating with them. Some of them may make the wrong choices occasionally, but they will stand a much better chance if they are provided with knowledge from an understanding adult.
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