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.