When is my child most at risk of using substances?
As a parent, it’s important to understand and recognize that your kids may be at risk of using substances. You need to acknowledge that risk and set clear rules for your children – whether they are going to a party, a sleepover or hanging out with friends after school. As children move into their teenage years and make the necessary transitions into adulthood, they will face times when their risk of using drugs, tobacco and alcohol increases. In these times, your child will depend on you to help guide them in order to make the right decisions.
We know that as a child enters middle school and high school, they will be surrounded by older kids and peers who smoke, drink and use drugs. What once may have seemed like a disgusting habit to your child may now become more intriguing if they see the star athlete or head cheerleader experimenting. In schools, drugs can be easily available, and using might seem like a good option to kids when facing peer pressure and stress. Puberty is also a time of increased risk. Heightened anxiety/depression, the enticement of a risky experience, and the desire to be “cool” can all spark an interest in experimentation.
The good news is everything you do as a parent when your kids are growing up will benefit your child as they reach these key transitional times. Creating a foundation of communication, trust and support will let your kids know that you love them and will help to guide them towards right choices. Helping with homework, having dinner together, getting to know your child’s friends, talking openly about tough issues, being clear about rules and consequences, monitoring their whereabouts – these examples of parental engagement are great ways to stay involved in your kids’ lives during their formative years.
So tell us, how will you help prepare your kids for the pressures they’ll face in middle school or high school?
Do you need some help starting a discussion with your kids? Take a look at our conversation starters.