People (USA)

5 Things Parents Can Do

Jessica Lahey offers these tips from her research and personal experience:

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1/ Start with Yourself

What habits and attitudes about alcohol and drugs do you communicat­e, both verbally and in practice, to your kids? Our children tend to do as we do, not as we say, so make sure you model healthy behaviors for your kids.

2/

Talk Early, Talk Often

Conversati­ons about drugs and alcohol need to start with talk about health and safety when kids are very young. Create a family environmen­t where kids are encouraged to ask questions and raise concerns.

3/ Don’t Lecture

Children are more apt to engage in two-way discussion­s. Use your kid’s interests to find the side door into the conversati­on. When you listen to the topics that mean something to him, that shows he’s worth listening to.

4/ Increase Kids’ Sense of Self-efficacy

This belief in their own ability to cope with challenges— and ultimately succeed—comes from trying, doing, failing and trying again. Teach an older kid to make dinner from scratch and see what they create.

5/ Use Inoculatio­n Messaging

One of the best ways to prepare kids to say, “No, thanks, I’m good,” is to practice saying, “No, thanks, I’m good.” Arming kids with counterarg­uments for substance use will shore up their defenses against peer pressure.

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