Make a resolution that’s actually fun
Add consistent family time to your schedule
With the new year comes new resolutions, a chance to be better, to reboot our health, finances, and other life priorities. We encourage you to make one additional, special resolution this year, one that will benefit both you and your child today and well into the future.
In 2019, commit to creating stronger bonds within your family.
Strong family bonds are key to your child’s well-being on so many levels; that much is obvious to most parents. But did you know that researchers link strong family relationships to the prevention of underage drinking and other substance abuse?1 They’ve found that the closer a child feels to his or her parents, the less likely they are to drink.
This occurs for a number of reasons, ranging from the child being able to turn to parents instead of to alcohol when coping with personal challenges to youth in close families having increased self-esteem that allows them to withstand peer pressure.
Read about the risks of underage drinking to understand why it’s critical to build these bonds. Risks range from physical injury to impaired learning to a life-long dependence on alcohol.
CREATING STRONG BONDS
According to Laura Markham, PhD, writing in in Psychology Today, a strong connection is “the only reason children willingly follow our rules. Kids who feel strongly connected to their parents want to cooperate, if they can.”2
She goes on to say that strong relationships require numerous daily positive connections—at least five positive interactions to each “negative” one like correcting, scolding, and nagging.
Here are a few ideas to help you create these positive interactions and stick to your family-bonding resolution without adding a lot more to your plate.
- Eat dinner together at least 5 times a week. Teens who eat with their parents 5–7 times a week say they are less likely to drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, or use drugs than those who eat with their families less frequently.3 If this many family dinners sounds overwhelming, recruit your child to help in the kitchen—another great way to spend time together.
- Each day, spend 15 minutes of alone time with each child, whether it’s playing a game, chatting on the way to practice, or checking in at bedtime.
- Turn off technology when interacting so your child knows they’re important enough for you to give your full attention to.
- Provide 12 physical connections daily, which can include making eye contact and smiling, hugging, or patting or rubbing your child’s back.2
- Plan at least one family activity on the weekends. It can be simple, like hiking, going to the library, playing a board game, or going out for ice cream.
When you find room for these small but powerful connections in 2019, you’ll have more fun together and, just as important, build bonds that will help keep your child safer throughout adolescence and into adulthood.
1. Strategies to Prevent Underage Drinking from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
2. 10 Habits to Strengthen a Parent-Child Relationship from Laura Markham, PhD, Psychology Today
3. What’s Dinner Got To Do With It? from the National Institute on Drug Abuse for TeensTags: family bonds, family time, Idaho teen, substance abuse prevention, underage drinking Idaho