Tips and Tools to Help Keep Your Kids Safe

Many of us aren’t aware of how often our children face difficult issues dealing with drugs, alcohol or tobacco. Over half of teenagers in the U.S. say they have been offered drugs. Often our kids first hear about and consider using alcohol, tobacco or other drugs while they are still in elementary school. 

These facts may be shocking, but parents still have incredible influence on their child’s decision whether or not to use drugs. The following tips will help you strengthen your child’s ability to avoid dangerous situations and know what to do when he must decide whether or not to use alcohol, tobacco or other drugs. Following several tips are links to articles with even more information.

Get into the habit of talking with your child everyday. It doesn’t matter what the topic is, when your child talks with you, show real concern and interest in what she’s saying. Ask questions about her hopes, fears, likes and dislikes. If you establish a close and open relationship with your child at an early age, it will be easier for her to come to you when she has a problem.

Give your child lots of praise for efforts, not just accomplishments. Look for all the good things in your child and tell him how proud you are of him.

Many parents believe that they don’t hold much influence over their own kids. But most kids say that their parents are the single greatest factor in choosing not to smoke, drink or take other drugs. You’re the best role model they have- your actions often speak louder than words.

It’s important that our kids have friends who are caring, accepting and kind. Teach your children what being a good friend means so they can be a good friend to others and also find friends who treat them with respect and compassion.

Talk with your child often about family rules and expectations and what the consequences are for breaking rules. Always be consistent and enforce the rules you’ve set out.

Our kids are much more likely to avoid dangerous situations when they have caring adults in their lives. Get involved in your child’s life by participating in his activities- volunteer in his classroom, bring a snack for the soccer team, attend her recital or play or help with his science project. Your participation and encouragement tell your child that these activities are worthwhile and will encourage him to pursue more positive activities as he gets older.

Children are more likely to experiment with dangerous substances if they spend a lot of their time unsupervised. When your child goes to a friend’s house, make sure you know who’s house they’ll be at, whether the parent’s are home (not just an older brother or sister) and what they’ll be doing.

It’s not always easy to tell if your child is smoking, drinking or using other drugs. But no child is immune from substance abuse so it’s important to know what the warning signs are and what to do if you suspect a problem. The problem will only become worse if you avoid confronting it.

There are many local public and private counseling, therapy, and treatment services available to families experiencing a problem with alcohol or drugs.