Teens face so many temptations and misinformation that parents wish they could keep them under wraps forever. In reality, parents must help their kids make healthy choices, so they steer clear of drugs and alcohol. The key is communication.
1. Talk Honestly and Often
Even if you don’t feel like you know how to communicate with your teen, you must talk honestly and often. Kids who talk with their parents and learn about the consequences of drug and alcohol use are much less likely to consume them than kids who don’t have those conversations.
You must be a reliable, honest source of information. Don’t just tell your kids to abstain because you said so, and don’t tell them you don’t worry about them becoming addicted because they know better. Put in the effort to help them acquire the skills necessary to handle the stress, peer pressure, and difficulties of being a teen. Then, take advantage of teachable moments while you’re watching TV, listening to music, or discussing the news to have frank conversations. Do not plan to have one conversation about addiction and leave it at that. They need to hear it from you time and again.
Image via Pixaby
2. Listen More
Teens don’t want to hear all the answers from parents, and you may not have them all. It’s better to be an active listener when discussing addiction. When you throw facts and figures at them or impart all of your wisdom, they will stop listening. Instead, listen more. Hear what your teen has to say and encourage conversation any chance you get. Your kids need to know that you really hear what they are saying so they continue to talk to you. Psychology Today offers helpful suggestions for listening to teens.
3. Incorporate Rules into Your Discussions
Teens test limits. They are learning who they are, but they want to know that you care enough to stick to your rules and put consequences into place. When you discuss the dangers of addiction, remind your teens that your curfew and rules keep them safe. Ensure your son or daughter does not hang in the wrong parts of town or sneak out at night. Talk to your teens about trust and remind them that you have made decisions about where to live, so they have a community that shares your values. Monitor your kids when they are with their friends in your home and make sure that everyone knows your expectations and rules. It may be a good idea to lock up your liquor cabinet as well (if you have one). The more you show your teens how the rules are meant to help them make healthy choices, the more he knows you care.
When parents talk to their teens about addiction, they help them make healthy choices. You must talk honestly and often with your kids. Listen to your kids, too, so they feel comfortable talking to you. Then, incorporate your rules into the discussions so they understand how the rules help them stay safe.