Parents, take notes from an Idaho teacher on prevention
In her drug and alcohol prevention classes at Homedale Middle School, Brenda Reay works to help her students establish “protection factors,” the boundary-setting and decision-making skills that will help them stay safe.
Reay engages students in education and discussion around goals, relationships, peer pressure—and how substance abuse affects these. Parents will find these lessons helpful, too, so here are a few of Breay’s most important guidelines to help you steer your t(w)een away from alcohol and drugs:
- Make sure your child knows they can talk to you. Being a nonjudgmental listener helps ensure your child will come to you when they need to work through a stressful or confusing situation.
- Know where your kids are and who they’re with after school and on weekends.
- Get to know your kids’ friends so that you can analyze outside influences.
- Keep up with your child’s grades. “Kids who have poor grades have a higher chance of turning to drugs and alcohol,” says Reay. “Do they have their homework done? Do you look at their agenda each night? Are they organized?”
- Talk to your child about both short- and long-term goals and help them map out what actions they need to take to reach them. Then discuss how using drugs and alcohol derail them.
“Discuss their mental, physical, and social goals,” Breay suggests. “For example, is one of their physical goals playing sports? How could using alcohol or drugs affect that goal, now and in the future? Talk about the fact that what you put into your body now could affect this goal 10 years down the road.”
In this scenario, Breay points out that a child who envisions themselves playing a sport in college should know that using alcohol and drugs now can lead to poor performance and, if caught, suspension from a high school team, both of which could hinder college opportunities.
- Instill “refusal skills.” Let your child know that it’s absolutely okay to not do what other kids are doing. “Talk about possible scenarios they may face and help them decide what they’ll do in each situation, and practice ways to say no,” encourages Breay.
- Talk values and consequences. Frequently chat about your family’s values; this helps your child ask themselves, “Would my parents want me to do this?” in a given situation. Explain consequences—emotional, physical, legal, school-related, and those that will occur within the family structure—should your child decide to break the rules.
- Make a communications plan for when alcohol and drugs come out at a party. Will your child text or call you? Is there an excuse they can use that explains why they suddenly have to leave?
- Get them involved in activities. “Kids need to have a dependable strength outside of their peer community,” says Breay. “Have them try many things, and not only sports, where we are measured by wins and losses. Encourage at least one interest that they can do individually and can always turn to.”
Tags: alcohol-free, Idaho, parenting, prevention, teen, teen goals, underage drinking