7 ways to protect your child

The #1 reason kids do not smoke or use drugs is fear of disappointing their parents. You can be a powerful influence. You can set clear expectations and limits. You can be a supporter who encourages them to pursue their dreams and goals.

Here are 7 ways you can protect your child from alcohol and other drugs:

1. Talk Often With Your Kids

Fact: Kids who learn a lot about the risks of alcohol and other drugs from their parents are up to 50% less likely to use.

  • Have regular discussions from an early age, with consistent messages about the risks of alcohol and other drugs.
  • Plan what you want to say for the appropriate age.
  • Practice how you will respond to tough questions.
  • Find teachable moments.
  • Teach them how to turn down alcohol and other drugs.

Get more tips for talking with your child..

2. Be Clear About Your Expectations

Fact: You can build trust with your child by having clear and consistent rules.

Tell them it is not okay to drink or do drugs because:

  • It‘s against the law.
  • You’re still growing and your brain is still developing. Alcohol and drugs can damage your memory, your ability to learn, and can permanently damage your brain.
  • Doing drugs and drinking when you’re a teen makes you more likely to become addicted, and can lead to desperate measures including committing crimes.
  • You are more likely to make a bad decision when you are drinking or getting high, such as getting in a car, getting in a fight, or having sex.
  • Kids who drink are more likely to try other drugs.

3. Be a Role Model

Fact: Kids imitate adults.

  • If you drink, do it in moderation, defined as “the consumption of up to one drink a day for women and up to two drinks a day for men.”
  • Never drink and drive.
  • Don’t use illegal drugs.
  • Use prescription drugs properly.

4. Be Involved In Your Kid’s Life

Fact: Kids are less likely to use drugs when they have relationships with caring adults.

  • Listen to your child. Ask them about things they enjoy doing.
  • Be empathetic about problems with friends.
  • When your child seems angry or upset, start a conversation with an observation like “you seem sad” or “you seem stressed.”
  • Have dinner together at least four times a week.
  • Get to know your child’s friends and their parents.
  • When your child is going to someone’s house, make sure an adult will be home.
  • Encourage your child to call any time they feel uncomfortable.

5.  Establish Rules and Follow Through

Fact: Parents’ leniency is a bigger factor in teenage drug use than peer pressure.

  • Talk to your child about rules at a calm time. Explain the rules, for example what time they must come home, and the consequence for breaking the rule.
  • Build a trusting relationship with respect and consistency. Reward good behavior.
  • Follow through with consequences. Uphold your rules and rules set by the school and community. If your child is punished for breaking a rule, help them understand why, and discuss what they can do differently in the future.

Here are some responses to common excuses and arguments:

  • “You’re the only parent who won’t let me…” (I am sorry you feel that way, but that is the rule in this house.)
  • “I didn’t know I was supposed to be home at… “ (You do now.)
  • “It’s not mine, I was holding it for a friend… “ (You’re still responsible.)
  • “I swear, it was the first time I tried it… “(Bad things can happen on the first time.)
  • “That teacher/person in charge is out to get me…“ (That is irrelevant.)
  • “Why don’t you trust me? … “ (Your trust bank account is low right now. Here’s what you can do to make a deposit.)

6. Encourage Your Child to Work Hard in School:

Fact: Kids who perform well in school are less likely to become involved with alcohol and drugs.

  • Encourage improvements in grades and in good work.
  • Make sure your teen has a quiet place to do homework.
  • Coach your child on effective ways to ask teachers for help and advice.

7. Support Your Child’s Involvement in Outside Activities:

Fact: Kids who pursue their interests and dreams are less likely to try alcohol and drugs.

  • Community Service – Volunteering and getting involved in the community give a sense of purpose, and expand your child’s awareness of the world.
  • Sports– Keeping active in sports provides physical, mental and emotional benefits, and keeps kids from getting bored.
  • Art, Drama and Music – Creative expression and friends with common interests can help a child develop a talent and increase self-confidence.

Check out our "Prevention in your Home" Guide for more information.