These days worries and concerns about our children abusing alcohol or drugs begin earlier and earlier. In some areas of our cities and states, it’s not unusual (and it’s wise) to be concerned about children’s vulnerability to substance abuse as early as grade school.
As parents, it is our responsibility to not only stay in contact with the situation in our local schools, but we have to keep a good eye on our kids and not assume they’ll never do drugs or drink, warn our psychics. By the ages of 11-13 they are at their most vulnerable when it comes to peer pressure, but I believe that with open communication, all children have a better chance of making better choices.
If you notice your child is spending a great deal of time alone in their room, distancing themselves from you and your spouse and siblings, if they’re always tired and have little ambition, then you should suspect that they might be using drugs or alcohol. Their appearance may deteriorate and their eyes may give away signs that they’ve been drinking or doing drugs. Parents need to look for all of these changes in their children.
As parents, we should also find ways to help prevent our children from needing to give in to peer pressure. Parents must keep up with who their children’s friends are as well as their friends’ families. Parents need to understand the serious consequences of childhood substance abuse and take the time to talk to the family about the dangers of drugs and alcohol. Most importantly all of these efforts require constant open and interactive communication with your children. Listening to your kids, allowing them to ask questions about these sensitive subjects and encouraging them to do so without the fear of being yelled at is absolutely key!
Yelling at children or attempting to frighten them will not make them listen harder. In fact, when children come from a home environment that is overbearing, entirely too strict and yelling is more prevalent than talking, children begin to move away from parents emotionally. Children, who are constantly yelled at, I find, are more at risk of exhibiting poor behavior. By nature, young ones seek loving attention and will look for it elsewhere if they don’t get it at home. This vulnerability can provoke children to succumb to peer pressure because they want to be accepted or fit in – and agree to drugs and alcohol to get all of those needs met.
As parents, we also need to let them make some small decisions on their own, but not without explaining the consequences of their decisions. If we allow them to make choices (within reason of course) letting them know we “trust” they’ll make the right ones, giving them the opportunity to exercise their judgment, they are more likely to want their parents to be proud of them by the choices they’ve made.
None of this is easy. It’s stressful, time consuming and often takes great patience and strength to be an involved parent today. And, in today’s society so many parents are single, having to work harder to meet financial and parenting responsibilities. But whether a child has one parent or two, open communication can be key to getting your child to be responsible about alcohol and drugs.
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