"Where are you going? Who will you be with? What will you be doing?" These are important questions every parent needs to ask a child to keep them safe and out of trouble. Research consistently shows that when children let their parents know about their activities, their friends and their whereabouts, they lower their risk of participating in risky behaviors, such as alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use, sexual activity, and fighting or gang activity.
The most successful parents encourage voluntary disclosure from their children. This requires a relationship of warmth with open communication. Younger children tend to disclose more than older children. So, a major challenge parents face is continuing open communication as children grow older. It’s important to set a pattern of regular and frequent communication before the drive for independence and the pull of the peer group starts to kick in.
Here are some tips parents can use:
· Get to know all of your children’s friends.
· Practice cell phone skills. If your teen prefers to communicate by texting, learn to text. Frequently ask, "What are you doing?" "Who are you with?" "When will you be home?
· Get to know your child’s friends’ parents. Share with them what your children do when they are at your place to set an expectation that they will share information about what they do under their watch with you.
· Spend a few moments with them when they get home to talk and make sure everything went all right.
· Pay attention to cues and clues. Has your child had an unexpected change in mood? Have his or her daily habits changed? Has your child become unexpectedly secretive? Are there new friends you haven’t met yet? Do they smell different? All of these can be a cue to remind you that knowing where your child is, what they are doing, and who they are with is important.
It’s our goal to raise children as best we can and that means making sure they are in a safe environment outside the home. Helping your kids make good choices in where they go, who they spend time with, and what they do is not meddling or an issue of trust. It is caring. The sooner we start, the easier it will be. Someday they will thank us for it.
SOURCE: Trends from Tanglewood, Kathleen Nelson-Simley
CTCADA offers both adolescent intervention and treatment programs. Education, individual counseling, family therapy, group counseling and referral to other resources are all part of a comprehensive effort to prevent or intervene in youth alcohol and drug abuse. Call us at 254-690-4455!