simple parenting strategies that work

Parents usually underestimate the influence they actually have on their kids’ behavior. When it comes to the decision to use alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs, most teens consistently identify their parents as their primary influencer.

Here are some simple things parents can do to help their kids make safe and healthy choices:

have the difficult conversations early

Talk openly and honestly about the important issues. Our culture is saturated with enticing and confusing messages about drugs that kids encounter every day. With misinformation and opportunities to experiment appearing earlier and earlier in life, it’s crucial for parents to step in and create clarity.

If asked, it’s ok to acknowledge drug use in your past. You can also describe general consequences that you experienced and the outcomes you want to protect your kids from having. However difficult, conversations about your values let your children know what your expectations are and how much you care about them.

clearly set a no use attitude

Create and enforce strict rules about drugs and be sure your kids know you think it’s a harmful choice. Establishing rules involving curfews, chores, bedtimes, and respecting other family members can also help set an expectation about responsibility and foster healthy behavior.

be self aware

Everyone learns by example, including your kids. Set a positive example for them by letting them see and understand the healthy choices you make.

give them the resources to succeed

Help them anticipate the types of situations that will come up and give them the tools for managing them. Prompt them to recommend other activities, to find their own words for saying no, and to be confident to walk away if circumstances require it.

What can I do to keep my children healthy and safe?

  • Talk with them about the risks of using alcohol, marijuana and other drugs. Have the discussions early and often. Go to for more information.
  • Never provide alcohol or drugs to minors. Lock up any alcohol, drugs, or prescription medication in your home.
  • Stay actively involved with your kids. Teens who feel close to their parents are less likely to use alcohol or marijuana.
  • Set fair and reasonable boundaries. Clear rules about drug and alcohol use that are consistently and reasonably enforced will help guide your kids into making safe and healthy choices.
  • Keep track of your child. Monitor where they are, who they are with, and what they are doing. Call the parents of their friends to make sure they are supervised.

What are substances?

“Substances” can refer to all legal and non legal drugs, including alcohol, marijuana, tobacco, and prescription drugs. Other drugs (such as meth or heroin) are also considered substances.

Any use of alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana by youth is illegal.

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