Above the Influence: How to Keep Your Child Healthy & Drug-Free
Children always look forward to downtime, whether it’s the summer, a holiday, or just a homework-free weekend. For most kids, this is a time of relief, joy, and freedom. For many parents, however, breaks bring additional stress and worry for a variety of reasons.
Working parents may even have to rely on additional childcare, and many parents worry about how to keep their children out of trouble during these periods of downtime. There are also additional stress points in a child’s personal and school life, such as bullying and peer pressure.
Here are some ways to help keep your kids healthy during down time.
Be Open and Honest
How can you ensure your child has a safe, fun break while also encouraging them to say no to drugs and alcohol? Experts say you can start by talking to your child about drugs. Don’t just assume that your child is getting the message from other people. You have a much bigger impact on your child’s life than you may realize. Therefore, never underestimate the power of a sincere, heartfelt conversation.
In fact, developing strong communication practices with your child will lay the foundation for a strong relationship throughout their lives, which means your child will be more likely to come to you with questions and even after missteps. Aha! Parenting emphasizes the importance of starting with trust and encouraging your child even when it’s difficult. And don’t worry if your child is older and you don’t feel like you’ve started on the right foot. Relationships are processes, and you can always work together to build these practices even later in life.
If you or another adult in your family uses drugs or alcohol, or even uses prescription medication, keep them locked up and out of reach of children. Even common over the counter cold, flu and allergy medicines can spark an interest in kids. Kids are smart and curious. They will often find ways to get into things they shouldn’t, or friends might encourage them to sneak into your indulgences when you’re not around. Peer pressure is very powerful thing.
Keep unsupervised time to a minimum – even for teenagers. Research has shown that increased parental supervision reduces alcohol and drug use, especially in younger children. Don’t allow your child or teen to attend unsupervised parties, especially unsupervised sleepovers. If you can’t be around, hire a babysitter for younger children and tweens or pre-teens. You can also arrange for children and teens to spend time with a trusted relative, friend, or other adult during times when you are unavailable or have to work. By keeping your children supervised, they won’t be left to their own devices – and are therefore much less likely to get themselves into trouble.
You might be surprised to learn that the internet can also lead to temptation to try drugs and alcohol. As Addiction Center explains, though, 75 percent of teens surveyed reported seeing people on social media using and feeling encouraged to try alcohol and marijuana. Kids should be aware of social media best practices, and know how to implement them.
There are many ways to reduce stress in the life of your child. Seeking professional help is one way and may be necessary, such as anxiety treatment. It can be extremely helpful to prevent unhealthy habits and addictions before they present themselves. Options include counseling, therapy, and medical integration. There are also activities you can incorporate into the every day life of your family.
For inspiration, look at the country of Iceland. Iceland has seen some success in reducing drug and alcohol abuse among its teenage population by simply encouraging people to boost their moods in drug-free ways. Known as “natural highs,” these activities might include organized sports, music, art, dance, and more. In addition to uniting children, teens, and parents of various backgrounds and income brackets, this technique has encouraged children to find healthier, drug-free ways to relieve stress.
Exercise and physical activity have been proven effective for people in recovery, and many of those same benefits can aid in prevention. Plus, you can do them together as a family, which will relieve stress and increase relationships. Find an activity that you all enjoy, like bike riding, kayaking, running, or just a family walk. Then work it into your weekly schedule together.
Spend Time Together
Probably one of the best things you can do is to spend time together as a family. Take time to plan some healthy and fun activities you can all enjoy. Don’t just plan activities that you like; find out what interests each member of the family. Then, try to incorporate each person’s interests into your summer plans.
Planning regular time together while working from home can seem impossible, but there are ways to keep your kids occupied and be involved without sacrificing your productivity. Plan your work schedule according to your child’s age and needs, and build in time for breaks where you can take a walk together or play a game. The mental break will be good for you both!
Is there a family-friendly movie your youngest child has been wanting to see? Are you interested in relaxing on a beach? What about exploring meteorology by doing some experiments and even some storm spotting? Whatever you decide, be sure to discuss your interests as a family. Try to find creative ways to incorporate activities that each of you would enjoy throughout the coming months.
There is so much in our children’s lives that we cannot control. Luckily, good parenting mainly involves caring and effort. If you try to set a good example, sincerely take an interest in your child’s life, and plan activities that will benefit the whole family, you’ll set your child up for success.
Read more about educating your child about drugs.