It's almost time for summer vacation again and this can be a challenging time for both teens and adults. How are parents supposed to keep track of their child with all of their other daily obligations? From June until September, youths have less supervision because of their summer break. This time can also expose them to more peer pressure and recreational substance use.
It can be frightening to think about, especially with all of the harmful activities our children can get into with the extra free time. Data shows that these are valid concerns. A report from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration showed that on any average day in June and July, more than 11,000 adolescents used alcohol for the first time, 5,000 started smoking cigarettes, and 4,500 tried marijuana.
These alarming statistics can make some parents paranoid, but it doesn't have to be that way. In part one of this two post series, we've got a few quick tips for you that should give you some great ideas on ways to occupy your kid's time this summer. Part two will continue along with even more ideas. Click here for part two.
Start off by encouraging your child to get a summer job if they're old enough, or even volunteer and do some community service. If your child is not old enough to get a real job, have them start their own business by cutting grass, walking dogs, washing cars, or babysitting. These types of activities allow your child to gain real world experience, independence, confidence, and keeps them away from using drugs and drinking.
You can also sign them up for a summer camp, sport or other fun activity. This will allow your child to do something out of the ordinary that's fun, safe and supervised. See if you can sign them up with at least one of their friends. The more extracurricular activities your child is involved with, the less free time they have to experiment with drinking and drugs.
If you do send them off to a camp, require them to have a daily check-in. Your kids need to know how much you care about them, so make sure they understand they must check in daily. This is an excuse for you to keep tabs and make sure they are not being put in any harmful situations with bad influences.
Keeping a safe home and leading by example is a great way to keep your child sober and uninterested in experimenting with drugs and drinking. Do not keep alcohol in the house. If you must, keep it locked away, along with any narcotics you might have. Make your prescriptions and alcohol as inaccessible as possible. Also, keep a count on your bottles and your pills. If you find that anything is missing, confront your child.
It all begins at home when it comes to keeping your kids clean and sober. Try to have an open dialogue with your kids and tell them your views and stances on underage drinking and experimenting with drugs. It is very important that your kids understand your point of view, and that they know your rules and what will happen if they engage in this sort of risky behavior. It is OK to have multiple conversations about this with your children if needed. Sometimes several smaller conversations are more impactful than one long lecture.
That being said, be ultra clear with the consequences for experimenting with drugs and drinking alcohol. This means the punishment that you lay out, such as groundings, and taking away privileges, as well as real life consequences such as legal troubles, drinking and driving, and either dying or killing someone in an accident.
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