skills can go far in reducing the likelihood of a child’s becoming
substance-addicted or ever experimenting in the first place, Dr. Mann
There are six
behaviors in particular which parents should make a habit.
Communication. Studies have shown that you can reduce the chances your
children will use drugs or alcohol by 50 percent merely by impressing on
them why such use is unacceptable, Spitler says.
* Be Involved in
Your Children’s Lives: Talk to your kids, regularly, which may in fact
mean listening to them. Set aside 15 minutes every day for a chat or
a game or other activity. Set aside time once a week to do something
special: take your children fishing or hiking, to a museum, to their
* Establish Rules
and Expectations with Clearly Defined Consequences for Violating Them:
Children want predictability, Spitler says. They want order. Give them both
and make sure they know what will happen when they break a rule
or--especially--use drugs. Always follow through with consequences. Get on
the same page with your spouse. Be consistent.
* Know Their
Friends: If your children are always hanging out at their friends’
homes--and never at yours--you should be suspicious. Make an effort to meet
their friends and their friends’ parents. Provide your children with canned
responses which they can use if ever offered a drug.
* Monitor Your
Kids’ Activities: You’re not your children’s friend, Spitler says.
You’re their parent. You’re supposed to love your kids, not trust them. Know
who they’re communicating with on their cell phones, what sites they’re
visiting on their computer, what they’re writing in their journals, what
they’ve hidden under their bed.
* Be a Good Role
Model: If you don’t want your children to use drugs, then you shouldn’t
either. You should know that your kids are going to school with kids whose
parents leave their bongs and stash in plain view in the home.