Kids today face enormous pressure to fit in, and with the growing presence of social networking in the lives of young people, those pressures are extending beyond the classroom. Added to this is the pressure to meet academic standards and balance any stress within the home. All too often, kids are turning to unsafe methods of coping with the stress, such as drugs and cigarettes. Studies have shown that the younger children are when they experiment with drugs, the more likely drugs will affect them in adulthood. It is up to the parents to be a positive role model in the lives of their children.
Kick the habit. If you currently smoke, make sure your children are aware of the negative health consequences associated with smoking. Better yet, use your children and the risk of second-hand smoke to motivate you to quit. Set the positive example that drugs, even legal ones like nicotine, are harmful to their health and should be avoided.
Talk about drug use. Avoid the use of all illegal drugs. Also, make sure that if you are using any prescription medication, you are following your doctor’s directions. Start talking to your kids early and openly about drug use and make sure they fully understand the consequences of drug use, whether it be illegal drugs or the misuse of prescription medication.
Get involved. Get your kids involved with extracurricular activities both in and outside of school. Focus on a sport or other physical activity that will not only keep them busy and out of trouble but will keep them active and physically healthy as well. This will also give them the opportunity to meet other kids with similar interests and teach them healthy ways to burn off stress. Make sure that you stay involved and interested in their activities, where they are, and with whom they are friends.
Show by doing. Be a good role model by being physically active as well. When you head out for a run or to the gym, your kids will notice. They will also notice when you have fun and enjoy celebrations without the use of alcohol. If being healthy is a priority for you, it may just become a priority for them, too.
If you are looking for more information on underage drinking or drug use so you can engage your child in conversation, we can provide that for you. We are a coalition located in Pinellas County Florida that is dedicated to eradicating drug use and abuse and helping families find positive ways to spend their time.
Tips for Parents on Keeping Children Drug Free (U.S. Department of Education)
Help Your Children Achieve a Fit and Healthy Lifestyle (National Association of Sports and Physical Education)