Spend time with your teens to curb their interest in substances
Did you know that people are more likely to do things (even negative things) if they believe it is the “norm?”
Based on this research, one of the tactics we use to encourage youth to say “no” to underage drinking is called Positive Community Norms (PCN). We are working to change youth’s perception of what is normal by starting conversations, busting myths and sharing the reality of underage drinking – most teens don’t drink.
But we don’t just limit the use of this tactic to youth. As a parent, you are a vital piece of the prevention puzzle; it is important you understand the reality of substance abuse and realize that, despite what society’s norms suggest, teens really do listen to their parents.
Teen substance abuse statistics
In recent years, there has been a lot of myth-busting research done on the topic of youth substance abuse. Not all of it is positive, but it is all important for parents to know. It will help you parent more effectively because you will be using scientifically proven tactics to prevent substance abuse versus hearsay.
The bad news
One of the most commonly prescribed substance abuse prevention tactics for teens is to get them involved in after-school activities. It has long been thought that busy teens don’t have time for underage drinking or have enough structure in their lives to prevent bad decision-making. Unfortunately, this has recently been disproven.
Researchers found that teens more heavily involved in sports were less likely to smoke tobacco or pot, but more likely to drink, whereas kids who worked part-time jobs were more likely to smoke and drink but less likely to use pot.
The final conclusion of the study was that greater than average involvement in structured school and after-school activities did not seem to offer a protective effect.
While this is unfortunate, it does not mean you should pull your teen out of after-school activities. These activities offer teens endless benefits – just don’t rely on as a means of substance abuse prevention.
The good news
A different substance abuse study found out some more positive myth-busting news for parents – parental disapproval can be a powerful force to keep teens from succumbing to the impulse to drink.
When asked about their parents’ rules about drinking, the teens in the study whose parents were strict were less likely to be motivated to drink when they saw a beer bottle or another trigger they associated with alcohol. They were also better able to reflect on their choice, and consider the consequences.
Your rules matter to your teen; you just need to make them known.
Spending time with your teen
Your teen doesn’t want to just hear from you when you have an important to talk about. If you don’t spend fun time with your teens, they will be suspicious every time you want to talk and if you don’t bond with them, they are less likely to respect you and listen to you.
4 easy ways to spend time with your teen
- Turn off electronics – Designate one night a week as an electronics free night. Everyone can choose to read, play board games, talk or do whatever they want so long as you are all together and not using your phones.
- Take interest – What do your teens love to do? Whether they love video games or gardening, have them teach you about their interests.
- Exercise together – Everyone wishes they had the motivation to exercise more – you and your teens can motivate each other. Go for walks or to the gym. This is an emotionally and physically healthy bonding option.
- Eat together – Family dinners have been proven to offer benefits for all family members. You don’t need to cook a 5-course meal to benefit from family meals. As long as you are together, you can order in or even eat leftovers.
Make family time a regular occurrence. Having a routine is healthy for everyone, but it also ensures that you make time for family and it provides a time that your teens know for a fact that you will be available to talk with them and help them through anything they are going through.