Raising Drug Free Children
A Parent's Tool Kit
Marijuana use directly affects the parts of the brain responsible for memory, learning and attention. Scientific evidence shows that marijuana use during the teen years can permanently lower a person’s IQ and interfere with other aspects of functioning and well being.
How to Raise a Drug-Free Child
Do not be fooled, drugs are every where in our society and easy to get.
No parent, child, or family is immune to the effects of drugs. Some of the best children can end up in trouble, even when they have made an effort to avoid it and even when they have been given the proper guidance from their parents. However, certain groups of children may be more likely to use drugs than others. Children who have friends who use drugs are likely to try drugs themselves. Those feeling socially isolated for whatever reason may also turn to drugs.
When children don't feel comfortable talking to parents, they're likely to seek answers elsewhere, even if their sources are unreliable. Children who aren't properly informed are at greater risk of engaging in unsafe behaviours and experimenting with drugs.
Take note of these points:
Early Steps - Even before a child is born a parent’s action is critical to helping a child stay off drugs in later years. Drugs, including nicotine and alcohol, can damage a fetus as early as three weeks after conception and some research suggests that babies born to addicted mothers may be at higher risk to addiction later in their lives. Mothers therefore need to stay away from drugs during pregnancy and breast feeding years.
First Lessons - Long before children are ready for school, teach them the rules for behaviour - A warm, open family environment, where children are encouraged to talk about their feelings, where their achievements are praised, and where their self-esteem is bolstered — encourages children to come forward with their questions and concerns.
When censored in their own homes, children go elsewhere to find support and answers to their most important questions. Teach them honesty, fairness, respect for others and for the law and most importantly you should live by those values yourself. Remember that what ever you do, your children are going to be watching you. When you stay on the phone and brag about your wrong doings, your children are listening, when you lie to your neighbours or refuse to help when needed, your children are watching.
Good Choices - It is important to keep your children involved in family activities. They should join the family for dinner and be part of family vacations and other activities. Teach your children to make the right decisions on their own, and impart “don’t be a follower” lessons. Teach your children to say “no.”
Keep Communication Open - Just talk. Grasp every opportunity to speak to your children. It may seem as though your children are not listening, but don’t give up. Better they hear about drugs from you, than from those who use and sell drugs.
Use every opportunity to discuss drugs with your children. Whenever you give medication or an antibiotic to your child, you have the opportunity to discuss the benefits and the appropriate and responsible use of the drug. This is also a time when your child is likely to be very attentive to your behaviour and guidance.
If you see a character on TV with a cigarette, talk about smoking, nicotine addiction, and what smoking does to a person's body. This can lead into a discussion about other drugs and how they can potentially cause harm.
Keep the tone of these discussions calm and use terms that your child can understand. Be specific about the effects of the drugs: how they make a person feel, the risk of overdose, and the other long-term damage they can cause.
Escape Routes - Give your children reasons for saying no to drugs. Practice responses with your children, such as, “No way. They are not good for me.” Teach children to avoid places where they may be pressured to use illegal drugs and if they do encounter drugs, teach them how to walk away and what to do.
Facts - Parents should know the types of drugs their children could be exposed to and the dangers associated with each. Be able to identify the paraphernalia used with each drug; know street names of the drugs and what they look like. Be alert for changes in your child's behaviour or appearance.
Keep Your Children Busy - Research has shown that when teens are unsupervised and have little to do, they are more likely to experiment with drugs. Get your children involved with hobbies and/or extra-curricular activities that encourage discipline and that also keeps them active in positive activities.
Setting Limits- Many young people use drugs simply because their friends do. Get to know your child's friends and their parents and keep communication going with them. You should always know where your children are and the type of events that they are attending. Do not allow your children to attend events where you suspect that there might be drugs.
Stay Involved - Although it may take personal sacrifice, a parent must have direct involvement with their children. Every parent should attend parent/teachers meetings and get involved in school activities as this helps you to meet the people that your child interacts with every day.
Parents should also attend training sessions, rehearsals and games and support the efforts of children. Being an involved parent allows you to be more aware of any changes that may take place in your child's behavior and in seeing them outside of the home and it also allows for more communication with your child.
Enforcing Rules - Setting rules for a child is only half the job. In order for these rules to be truly effective, penalties must be enforced. A parent must be prepared to enforce the penalties when rules are broken. Make sure your child knows what the rules are, the reasons for them and what the consequences will be if they're broken.
However the penalties should be sensible and not outrageous. Consistency - Make it clear the "no drugs or alcohol" rule applies everywhere, not just at home.