How can You Tell if Your Child is Showing Signs of Substance Use?

July 16th, 2014

Would you be able to tell if your child started experimenting with nicotine, alcohol, or other drugs? It may not always be obvious, especially if they are trying to hide it from you, rather than tell you and seek advice or help. The early signs of substance use are typically subtle. It’s important to detect the risk factors that precede use as early as possible. Risk factors include emotional, developmental, and behavioral problems, increased stress, having a family member who uses, and lacking self-esteem, just to name a few. Timely and consistent parental engagement is crucial. A lack of it will increase your child’s likelihood of drinking and using drugs.

Teens often experience the following behavioral changes: mood swings, erratic sleeping patterns, increased demand for privacy, and changes in hobbies, interests, and friends. How can you tell if this is normal behavior or if they are showing signs of use? A parent’s best early detection method is an ongoing dialogue with their teen about what’s going on in their life and what their concerns and thoughts are. When changes are sudden and drastic or when many changes begin to occur simultaneously you should be ready to investigate and find out what the root of the problem is.

Changes in behavior send an “alarm” that your teen could possibly be using nicotine, alcohol, or other drugs. These are called “siren signals”. The first siren signal you should look out for is your teen dropping old friends and getting new ones. By observing the changes and talking to your teen about why they have developed new friendships you can help distinguish between a typical teen shift in friends and a cause for concern. Teens that smoke, drink, or use other drugs tend to hang out together, and they abandon their friends that don’t. Make it a priority to get to know your teen’s friends, why he/she hangs out with them, and what they have in common. If you suspect they are using substances, talk with your teen and remind them about how you feel about them engaging in this type of behavior. If your teen confesses that their new friends are using drugs, tell them to consider forming friendships with those that don’t.

Borrowing or stealing money is another siren signal. Teens have limited resources. If a teen is using drugs, their part-time job or their weekly allowance will not provide them with enough money to satisfy their cravings. Be aware of your teen’s spending patterns. Do they run out of allowance before the end of the week? Do they constantly ask you for more money? Keep track of cash in your wallet or around your home so you’ll know if any goes missing.

A third siren signal is dropping activities such as sports. Teens often lose interest in old activities or become bored. If your child stops doing activities they used to love, find out why. Your child’s substance use may be causing a culture clash if the friends who engaged in the old activities disapprove of your child’s behavior. Also, teens often skip out on productive activities to get drunk or high. Talk to other people in your child’s life if you suspect something could be wrong. Also, talk about your concerns with your teen and create more opportunities to spend time together.

Some additional siren signals include:

  • Increased secrecy
  • Missing or skipping school
  • Declining grades
  • Constant discipline problems
  • Sudden, frequent mood swings
  • Aggressiveness
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Chronic restlessness
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Use of stimulants to study

Early intervention is a significant prevention tool. Follow your intuition if you suspect a problem and ask your child specific questions about their activities, habits, and friends if you notice one of the siren signals. As a parent, you have the power to take action and protect your teen so they can lead a healthy, drug-free life.

How often do you check in with your teen about how they are feeling or what is going on in their life? Are there specific times of the day when you talk or spend time together? Let us know in the comments below!

Comments:

  1. Michelle Sawyer writes:

    This seems like a good article, I would love to have a copy of it and have available in our office for parents.
    I can’t really understand your terms of use?

  2. casafamilyday writes:

    Thank you for your comment, Michelle! You may print the blog from our website and distribute to the parents in your office. We appreciate your support of CASAColumbia® Family Day – Be Involved. Involved Stay Involved.®

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5 Healthy Meals You and Your Kids can Make Together

June 9th, 2014

We’re delighted to have our Family Day Mom Blogger Amy Roskelley share some experiences that help her connect with her kids on a daily basis. Below she provides 5 healthy meals that you can make with your little ones.

When my daughter Erica was about 7, she decided she wanted to learn how to cook! I had been having the conversation with her that when she grows up and she’s a mom, she’s going to need to know how to cook! So, she pulled out an old spiral bound notebook, put page numbers throughout the ENTIRE thing, and asked me to spell each and every ingredient for our salad. Then she started an index. I thought it was so cute, I wanted to rush out and buy her her very own CUTE recipe binder where she can collect her favorite recipes until she leaves home. I resisted however, and decided to let her do it her own way.

Photo Courtesy of Super Healthy Kids

Kids need to learn cooking skills, and when we get in the kitchen to teach them, we are also creating memories and bonds that they will never forget. Studies show, if kids learn to cook, they are more likely to eat healthier, and when they leave home they will prepare healthier meals for their own families. And the cycle of  health continues.. I was reading in the paper a few years ago, our generation (today’s moms and dads) do not know the basic steps of cooking. That we complain we have no time to be in the kitchen to make food for our families, yet we spend an average of 4 hours in front of the TV a day. So, let’s get back into the kitchen with our kids! I promise, they will not only learn vital skills, but you’ll be preparing them for life when they aren’t under your roof anymore!  

These 5 meals are the ones that my kids typically help with.

Meal #1: Scrambled Eggs

The very first meal my kids made from beginning to end was eggs! Cracking an egg can be tough for little hands, but it’s a skill that needs to be learned eventually! The first step is to practice the cracking into a bowl (and fishing out any shells that got dropped). The second step is prepping the pan to be cooked. Whether you are going to use cooking spray or butter, coat the pan and turn it on. Then, let the kids pour the eggs into the skillet. As the eggs begin to set, show them how to move the eggs around with a spatula to get them all cooked.

We add spinach at the end of cooking. So, just before you think they are about set, add a handful of baby spinach. Once the eggs are no longer runny or wet and the spinach has wilted, they can remove the eggs and eat them!

Photo Courtesy of Super Healthy Kids

Meal #2: Sandwiches

The second meal my kids learned to make with me is their own sandwiches for lunch! Parents- kids can do this at a very young age! Don’t underestimate their skills. As young as 3 years old they can get their bread. They can get the spread, and spread some peanut butter on one side, and fruit on the other! Do it with them a few times, and then you’ll just have to supervise the rest.

Photo Courtesy of Super Healthy Kids

Meal #3: Homemade Pizza

From rolling out the dough to sprinkling a variety of toppings on, homemade pizza is so fun for kids to be involved with. Most of the time it’s because they can control what toppings are on the pizza! I know my kids have their favorites, and if I’m always the one making the pizza, they may not get their favorite.

Photo Courtesy of Super Healthy Kids

Meal #4: Pasta

Boiling water and adding some noodles takes a few times for kids to get right, but is probably the fastest thing they’ll learn to do in the kitchen. Teaching kids the proper amount of water for the noodles, and the proper cooking time is the most important thing. After they’ve mastered boiling the noodles, then you can expand to the myriad of add-ins you can make with veggies and sauces.

Photo Courtesy of Super Healthy Kids

Meal #5 Green Salads

Funny I would add this one, as most people don’t consider it a meal, but it can be! Using a green salad as your base, you can top it with beans, meat, cheeses, and of course and assortment of veggies. One of our favorite combinations is to put a roast in our slow cooker all day. Then, when it’s dinner time, the kids help prepare the rest of the salad. They shred the lettuce, rinse the beans, shred the cheese, chop the tomatoes, and mix the dressing.  (Full Recipe here)

Photo Courtesy of Super Healthy Kids

So, that’s our list! Don’t be scared to get your kids in the kitchen with you today! You can begin to create memories while teaching important skills with your kids.

Bio: Amy Roskelley blogs at Super Healthy Kids in order to provide tools and resources to help families live better and be healthier. Super Healthy Kids has recipes, meal plans, tips, ideas, and more!

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How can You set a Good Example for Your Children?

May 12th, 2014

One of the most important parts of parental engagement is your own conduct. You may not realize this, but your kids are actually more affected by what they see you do rather than what they hear you say. It’s important to practice what you preach, and be a model of healthy behavior for your kids. Remember, parents who smoke, drink, or use other drugs are likelier to have kids who do the same.

If your children witness you or your spouse drinking every night, it sends the message that it’s ok to drink every night, even when you make it clear through what you say that both of you don’t approve of them drinking. When your children go out into the world, it’s possible that they will develop the same habits. Sometimes, they may not even be aware.

No one is perfect, but you can still be a positive role model for your children. There’s a clear difference between rushing home to have a few drinks every night and occasionally enjoying some wine with dinner. Did you know it’s never too late to make changes to your lifestyle? For example, if you smoke regularly, but you make it a priority to quit when your children are very young, the less likely your kids are to try smoking. Your kids will appreciate it when you’re open and honest with them. Allowing them to witness your struggles enables them to become your biggest fans and supporters. Your ability to kick the habit will empower your kids to resist peer pressure to smoke.

Actions are more persuasive than words. This is something you should always keep in mind when setting a good example for your children. Sending the right messages about nicotine, alcohol, and other drugs will help your kids make healthy and responsible choices when you’re not around.

How do you set a good example for your children? Let us know in the comments below!

Comments:

  1. Sinea Pies writes:

    Having had a drinking problem as a teen, I can tell you that example is very very very important. Did I say VERY important? I emulated the people I saw around me –cocktail hour was big in our home. Also, television in those days showed happy lovely people drinking all the time. Bewitched? Darren and Samantha celebrated and de-stressed with a cocktail. The bad example was everywhere.

    When I stopped drinking, my healthy life began. I LOVE not drinking (smoking went too) I love waking up in the morning feeling great with no regrets. Parents, your lifestyle speaks much louder than your words. Give up vices that could kill your kids or ruin their lives.

    Blessings,
    Sinea

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Should I Be Concerned about Drugs in my Child’s School?

April 14th, 2014

Did you know that 8 out of 10 high school students and 4 out of 10 middle school students said that they’ve seen schoolmates possessing, using, or dealing drugs, or high or drunk at school? Kids spend about half of their waking hours in school surrounded by peers and teachers who influence the choices they make every day. Kids are more likely to use substances if their school environment is filled with students who view smoking, drinking, and using other drugs as “cool’ and as a rite of passage.

Teens may use substances to increase their popularity, or because of poor academic performance. Don’t be fooled into thinking that it’s only the “difficult” kids who possess and use substances. Teens oftentimes become victims of drug use because they don’t foresee the consequences of their actions or they have teachers and school administrators around them that treat the issue lightly or don’t think it is a big deal.

How can you help your child navigate the challenges of a drug-infected school?  First and foremost you can make it a priority to communicate with them on a daily basis. Listen closely to what they have to say, and let them know you’re available to talk when they are having an issue or facing a difficult situation. Let your kids know that you’re aware of the drug problems affecting schools, and ask them if they have witnessed a friend or classmate selling or using nicotine, alcohol, or other drugs. Brainstorm with your child and come up with effective responses they can use if they are offered drugs.

Additional tips that will help you ensure a drug-free school for your child:

  • Talk to other parents about coming together to bring the issue of student drug use to the attention of the school’s leadership.
  • Insist that your child’s school provide substance use prevention curriculum along with substance-free rules and policies. Also, make sure that the school will provide help to the students and families that need it.
  • Aim for a school that encourages parental engagement and helps to coordinate support service for all students and their families.

Concerned your child might be experimenting with nicotine, alcohol, marijuana or other drugs because of their school environment? Here are some signs and symptoms you should look out for: http://casafamilyday.org/familyday/tools-you-can-use/signs-symptoms-and-prevention/.

What is the policy in your child’s school regarding drug use? Are you satisfied with it?

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How Can I Make my Home a Safe Haven for my Teen?

March 17th, 2014

A healthy home environment is crucial for children of any age, but it can be even more important for teens who are experiencing high levels of stress and increased pressure to drink, smoke, or use other drugs. Teens look to their parents to set a good example. As their protectors and main support system they count on you to provide them with a safe haven, a place where they can freely talk about their concerns when it comes to substance use.

Here are some tips that can help you create a positive and substance free home life for your teen:

  • Set a good example for your child through your own behavior and attitudes. You are the number one influence on your child.
  • Create a family contract. A contract lets a teen know what is expected of them. It also outlines any consequences they might face if they break the rules.
  • Discuss your family’s history of addiction with your child. Genetic and environmental factors strongly affect the transmission of addiction from one generation to the next. Let your child know if they are at risk, and help them create a lifestyle that will keep them substance free.
  • Protect your child from environmental tobacco smoke. If you are a smoker who cannot quit, make sure you smoke outdoors away from your child. Also, avoid smoking in the car when driving with your child. Effects of secondhand smoke include lung cancer and coronary heart disease. Get help immediately from a doctor or local health center if you’re struggling to quit smoking, drinking, or taking other drugs.
  • Keep your liquor cabinet locked and any prescription drugs in a secure place so your teen is not tempted to experiment or share anything harmful with their friends. This also prevents any teen guests from gaining access to these substances.
  • If your teen is witnessing a sibling dealing with substance use problems, make sure you set aside time to give extra care and support to the sober child.
  • Encourage relatives to also set a good example when they are in your child’s presence.

How do you make your home a substance free place for your teen? Share with us in the comments below!

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Girls and Boys: Why their Reasons for Using Substances are Very Different

February 13th, 2014

Tweens and teens all over the United States frequently feel pressure to use nicotine, alcohol or other drugs. Keeping this in mind, why would a parent’s conversation with their son about substance use be different from the one they have with their daughter? The people and situations that present opportunities to experiment with substances vary for both boys and girls. The consequences are also very different.

How are girls affected?

Due to biological make up, girls become addicted faster and suffer more severely than boys when under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Countless young girls suffer from low self-esteem, depression, lack of confidence, and anxiety. Many times they don’t know how to effectively deal with these feelings. Drugs and alcohol help them self-medicate and avoid facing their problems, while also making them more vulnerable.

How are boys affected?

Boys typically enjoy sensation seeking and they like to “show off” and “be cool”. Substance use may cause boys to engage in risky behaviors, like drag racing, or they may become prone to acting violently. This can lead to serious injuries being inflicted onto them or those around them.

How can you steer boys and girls away from substance use?

Sports, outdoor activities, learning how to play an instrument, getting involved in a religious or political cause, or joining a club/team at school are all ways boys can fulfill the need for adventure and excitement and girls can build confidence and feel accepted. These activities make it possible for young people to develop skills that will help them in the future as well.

Parents, it is also important to remember that YOU make a difference! Your children rely on you for encouragement and positive reinforcement. Research shows that children with hands-on parents are far less likely to smoke, drink or use other drugs.

Do you need some help talking to your kids about substance use? Check out some tips by clicking here.

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Celebrate Family Day Every Day in Your Home

January 23rd, 2014

Happy New Year! We’re looking forward to celebrating CASAColumbia® Family Day with you this year! Family Day will be celebrated on September 22, 2014, but we hope you will join us in spreading the word about the importance of parental engagement all year long.

 

Take a look at some of the exciting news we’d like to share with you:

  • We’re starting a monthly 30 Day Family Fun Challenge in February. Any family is welcome to participate. Each month a new challenge will be announced on our website. To learn more, click here.

CASAColumbia’s new website features many resources that can be helpful to parents. We encourage you to check out the following:

  • Visit our Slideshare page to view our slides on adolescent substance use.

Remember, YOU make the difference in your children’s lives. Every day activities such as having family dinner together, helping your children with their homework or attending their after-school activities have a lasting effect on your kids. Each of these moments offers an opportunity to connect, share and really listen to what’s on their mind. We hope all of our tips and tools help you on your parenting journey in 2014!

How do you plan to stay engaged with your children this year?

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10 Fun Holiday Activities You Can Do With Your Kids

December 10th, 2013

Happy Holidays! This season is a perfect time to connect with your kids and your extended family. We hope these activities will help you stay engaged with your children and help you make lots of fun family memories:

  • Put on a holiday play. Give every family member a role, and write the lines together or act out your favorite holiday book or movie. You can perform it for neighbors or friends!
  • Form your own choir, and sing along to your favorite holiday songs! Whether you’re in the car or relaxing at home, this is a great way to spread holiday cheer!
  • Gather the family for a holiday photo. Everyone can get dressed up or wear funny costumes. Don’t forget to include your pets in the shot.
  • Create handmade gifts or cards, and give them out to neighbors or mail them to loved ones far away.
  • Have a holiday-themed game night. See who can fill in the lyric of your favorite holiday tune or guess each other’s favorite holiday film in a game of charades.
  • Bake holiday treats together. Little ones will be excited to help in the kitchen, and tweens and teens can help them with the baking duties. By getting everyone involved it makes this special treat even more rewarding.
  • Volunteer in your community with your whole family. There’s no better time than the holiday season to demonstrate to kids why it’s so important to help others. Let the kids choose a charity they’d like to give back to this year.
  • If it’s snowing, go sledding or have a snow ball fight. If not, play a game of touch football or tag. All of these activities provide great ways to get active, while having some family fun!
  • Make a collage of all your favorite memories from this year. Hang it on your fridge or in another room where you can all see it.
  • Dream about your plans for 2014 and make a list of new family activities you’d like to try starting January. Make sure everyone contributes at least one idea!

What are some of your family’s favorite holiday activities? Share your thoughts below. For parenting tips and tools you can use all year long check out our Family Day parent toolkit.

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Check Out Some of Our Top Parenting Quotes

November 8th, 2013

Did you know that every Friday we post positive parenting quotes on our Facebook and Twitter pages?

In case you’ve missed them, below is a recap of the most popular quotes from July through October 2013. We hope these quotes help you along your parenting journey.

We also hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Thank you for your continued support of Family Day!

  • “You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.” -Kahlil Gibran
  • “It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves that will make them successful human beings.” –Ann Landers
  • “The child supplies the power but the parents have to do the steering.” -Benjamin Spock
  • “Family-like branches on a tree, we all grow in different directions yet our roots remain as one.” –Unknown
  • “The deeds of the children are a testament to the upbringing they received from their parents.” –Christopher Paolini
  • “Show love to your children. You know you love them, but make certain they know it as well.” –Thomas S. Monson
  • “There are two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One of these is roots; the others is wings.” –Hodding Carter
  • “The greatest gifts you can give your children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence.” –Denis Waitley
  • “If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the mystery of the world we live in.” –Rachel Carson
  • “It’s not only children who grow. Parents do too. As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours.” –Joyce Maynard

A big thank you to all our friends and followers who have been “liking”, “sharing” and “re-tweeting” our parenting quotes. Do you have a favorite quote you’d like to share?

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Family Day 2013 Celebrations

October 7th, 2013

A very big thank you to all of our Sponsors, Partners, and Participants who celebrated CASAColumbia® Family DayBe Involved. Stay Involved.TM. Family Day was a success in 2013 because of YOU! We appreciate all of your efforts and commitment to spreading the word about parental engagement.

Family Day celebrations and promotions included:

  • Presenting Sponsor The Coca-Cola Company published an op-ed about Family Day written by Mr. Califano on their online media outlet, Coca-Cola Journey, and promoted Family Day through their internal portals and via their Twitter and LinkedIn pages.
  • Partner The World Famous Harlem Globetrotters promoted Family Day through their social media.
  • 30 State First Spouses served as Honorary Chairs of Family Day this year! First Lady of Indiana Karen Pence had lunch with staff and board members of the organization Birth to Five Program and donated lunches to two other non-profits. First Lady of Maryland Katie O’Malley hosted a dinner for 15 military families. First Lady of North Carolina Ann McCrory ate lunch with students and parents at Elm City Elementary where she presented a Family Day proclamation. First Lady of Wyoming Carol Mead hosted Family Day activities during the day at a local fourth grade class to promote family time. First Lady of Maine Ann LePage hosted a “Back to School Ice Cream Social” for military children and their families in August.

Scores of local community groups celebrated Family Day including:

  • Miami-Dade County Council of PTAs/PTSAs in Miami, Florida promoted Family Day at The United Teachers of Dade Back to School Picnic with 1,000 guests and at The Children’s Trust Family Exposition that was attended by 20,000 guests.
  • The Lyon County Family Resource and Youth Services Center in Eddyville, KY worked in conjunction with their 4-H Extension Officer to give out recipes and provided an area for students in school grades that range from Preschool/Head Start to 12th grade to eat lunch with their families.
  • Las Cumbres Community Services in Espanola, New Mexico celebrated their “First Annual Northern New Mexico Family Day” with close to 500 attendees. The free community event had games for kids, food, drinks, face painting, jumpy houses, rock climbing, and prizes.
  • The Robert D. Fowler YMCA in Nocross, Georgia decorated tables in their lobby to look like a dinner seating for a family of four. They put Family Day materials out on the tables, and handed them out at their membership desk while also encouraging families to share their meal plans. They discussed Family Day the entire month of September.
  • St. Luke’s Church in Westport, Connecticut hosted a potluck family picnic where they shared family photos. Kids, parents, grandparents, and empty nesters were all invited to attend.

The events and promotions above helped remind parents across the country about the importance of being involved in their kids’ lives. Every day activities like having family dinner together, helping your children with their homework or attending their after school activities have a lasting effect on your kids. Each moment you spend with your child offers an opportunity to connect, share and really listen to what’s on their mind. Research shows that children with hands-on parents are far less likely to smoke, drink or use other drugs. Remember, parental engagement makes a difference!

Every day can be Family Day in your home! Need help keeping the conversations going with your kids? Try our conversation starters or check out our parenting tips.

You can also take our Star Pledge and participate in our daily conversations on Twitter and Facebook. We look forward to hearing from you!

How did you celebrate Family Day this year? Send your Family Day photos to familyday@casacolumbia.org.

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