RAYMOND —April is Alcohol Awareness Month. This is a great time to raise awareness to the issue of youth and alcohol and help with ways to prevent the two from mixing.
Do you know the #1 reason kids do not smoke, drink or use drugs is fear of disappointing their parents? Parents have a very powerful influence in their teen’s life, even if they sometimes make us think we don’t. Please talk to your kids and talk often, you do make a difference!
Here are seven ways you can protect your child from alcohol and other drugs:
1. Talk Often With Your Kids. Kids who learn a lot about the risks of alcohol and other drugs from their parents are up to fifty-percent less likely to use. Have regular discussions from an early age, with consistent messages about the risks of alcohol and other drugs.
•Plan what you want to say for the appropriate age.
•Practice how you will respond to tough questions.
•Find teachable moments.
•Teach them how to turn down alcohol and other drugs.
•Visit www.timetotalk.org for more helpful tips on how to talk with your kids.
2. Be Clear About Your Expectations. You can build trust with your child by having clear and consistent rules. Tell them it is not okay to drink or do drugs because:
•It‘s against the law.
•You’re still growing and your brain is still developing. Alcohol and drugs can damage your memory, your ability to learn, and can permanently damage your brain.
•Doing drugs and drinking when you’re a teen makes you more likely to become addicted, and can lead to desperate measures including committing crimes.
•You are more likely to make a bad decision when you are drinking or getting high, such as getting in a car, getting in a fight, or having sex.
•Kids who drink are more likely to try other drugs.
3. Be a Good Role Model. Kids imitate adults and often their behaviors. They are also great listeners, watch how you refer to drinking and perhaps any tales you may tell of being under the influence.
•If you drink, do it in moderation
•Never drink and drive. This includes when you go out for a family meal
•Don’t use illegal drugs.
•Use prescription drugs properly and make it clear that they are only for the person that they are prescribed for.
4. Be Involved In Your Kid’s Life. Kids are less likely to use drugs when they have relationships with caring adults.
•Listen to your child. Ask them about things they enjoy doing.
•Be empathetic about problems with friends.
•When your child seems angry or upset, start a conversation with an observation like “you seem sad” or “you seem stressed.”
•Have dinner together at least four times a week.
•Get to know your child’s friends and their parents.
•When your child is going to someone’s house, make sure an adult will be home. Even better, make sure you have a conversation so that it is clear and they know you do not approve of underage drinking.
•Encourage your child to call any time they feel uncomfortable.
5. Establish Rules and Follow Through. Parents’ leniency is a bigger factor in teenage drug use than peer pressure.
•Talk to your child about rules at a calm time. Explain the rules, for example what time they must come home, and the consequence for breaking the rule.
•Build a trusting relationship with respect and consistency. Reward good behavior.
•Follow through with consequences. Uphold your rules and rules set by the school and community. If your child is punished for breaking a rule, help them understand why, and discuss what they can do differently in the future.
6. Encourage Your Child to Work Hard in School. Kids who perform well in school are less likely to become involved with alcohol and drugs.
•Encourage improvements in grades and in good work.
•Make sure your teen has a quiet place to do homework.
•Coach your child on effective ways to ask teachers for help and advice.
7. Support Your Child’s Involvement in Outside Activities. Kids who pursue their interests and dreams are less likely to try alcohol and drugs.
•Community Service – Volunteering and getting involved in the community gives a sense of purpose, and expands your child’s awareness of the world. The Raymond Coalition for Youth – Youth Action groups at all three Raymond Schools are a great way to get involved and be more community minded.
•Sports– Keeping active in sports provides physical, mental and emotional benefits, and keeps kids from getting bored. The Raymond School District and Raymond Rec programs offer great programming to support this.
•Art, Drama and Music – Creative expression and friends with common interests can help a child develop a talent and increase self-confidence. Our 21st Century Afterschool program and different clubs at our schools are available to spotlight these talents.
Here are some responses to common excuses and arguments:
•“You’re the only parent who won’t let me…” (I am sorry you feel that way, but that is the rule in this house.)
•“I didn’t know I was supposed to be home at… “ (You do now.)
•“It’s not mine, I was holding it for a friend… “ (You’re still responsible.)
•“I swear, it was the first time I tried it… “(Bad things can happen on the first time.)
•“That teacher/person in charge is out to get me…“ (That is irrelevant.)
•“Why don’t you trust me? … “(You earn trust and when you make bad choices you jeopardize my ability to trust you. Your good behavior and choices moving forward will help to build that back up.)
This message has been brought to you by the Raymond Coalition for Youth. To learn more about RCFY and other resources that are available on this topic and others visit their website at www.rcfy.org or check them out on Facebook and Twitter. RCFY has been in the community for more than ten years - Working to Make A Difference for our Youth!
Monthly meetings are held the second Thursday of the month, from 9:00-10:30 a.m. at Lamprey Health Care in Raymond. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to attend.