Based on research supported by parenting practices, children who have a warm and supportive relationship with their parents are less likely to use drugs or alcohol.
Be sure to regularly discuss shared interests, including sports, music, art, technology or movies. Take time to learn about your child’s hobbies to help bond with him or her.
Engage in extracurricular activities with your child. (Example: Together, you and your teen train for a race; volunteer at a soup kitchen; cook dinner; attend a free concert.)
For healthy teen extracurricular activities use our the Idea Generator at teenbrain.drugfree.org/tools/channelit/ideagenerator.pdf.
Maintain low levels of anger and emotion when talking with your teen (Example: Keep a cool head, speak calmly, try not to be defensive, give praise and positive feedback).
Work through challenges together (Example: If your child had an argument with a close friend and feels his world has fallen apart, talk about how he feels, what might make him feel better and what he can do to re-engage with his friend.)
Strive for honest and direct communication with your child. Find more tips for having a conversation regarding drugs and alcohol at timetoact.drugfree.org/know-start-talking.html
Offer encouragement for achievements — both large and small — and be sure to attend at least some of your child’s activities so he knows what he’s doing is important to you.
If you miss your child’s activities frequently, you might be sending them a message that what they do isn’t important. If you miss your child’s activities for reasons out of your control (Example: Your work schedule makes it impossible), then be sure to ask them about what happened.
Allow your child an appropriate degree of independence. Keeping your child sheltered or being a helicopter parent presents problems of its own.
Let them go out with friends, but in the right settings. Let them negotiate with you about what is expected of them, their curfew, what their chores are and when they need to be completed, etc.
When there is a healthy two-way interaction between you and your teen and your expectations are clear, it will help them learn to navigate the waters without you.
Chris Reynolds is community organization specialist with BRiDGES. She can be reached at 697-3947 firstname.lastname@example.org.