Clear Rules and "Hands-On" Parents Prevent Drug Use...
Parents often try to be friends with their children. It’s more important to be a parent – to establish rules, set limits and help children learn to be safe and healthy.
RULE MAKING TIPS:
1. Set clear rules and discuss in advance the consequences of breaking them. This includes rules about drug and alcohol use, as well as other household rules (curfew, homework, back-talking, etc.) Don’t make empty threats or let the rule-breaker off the hook. Don’t impose harsh or unexpected new punishments.
2. Set a curfew. And enforce it strictly. Be prepared to negotiate for special occasions (prom, homecoming, etc.)
3. The rules must be consistently enforced. Every time a child breaks the rules the parent should enforce a punishment
4. Punishments should involve mild, not severe, negative consequences. Overly severe punishments serve to undermine the quality of the parent-child relationship. (Teens will also forget why they are being punished if consequences last more than 3 weeks, leading to resentment.)
5. Have kids check in at regular times when they’re away from home or school. You will better be able to monitor behavior if you know where your teen is at, at all times. Provide a phone card, or a cell phone with clear rules for using it. (When I call you, I expect you to answer.)
6. Call parents whose home is to be used for a party. At the very least you will be able to confirm whether the party will have adult supervision. You may want to offer to help with refreshments or supervision if your can. On party night, don’t be afraid to stop in to say help (and make sure that adult supervision is in place.)
7. Make it easy to leave a party where drugs are being used. Make an agreement (in advance) with teens that they will call if they find themselves in an uncomfortable situation. Since “saving face” can be important to teens, set up a “code phrase” they can use to tell you to pick them up without letting their friends know. (Example- “How’s the dog? Oh, he seems worse? I want to come home and be with him.”)
8. Listen to your instincts. Don’t be afraid to intervene if your gut reaction tells you that something is wrong.
Adapted from: The National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign’s Behavior Change Expert Panel