If you are a parent or have children in your life, there may be a number of conversations that you dread having. Topics like violence, illness, drugs and alcohol and other problems we experience in our society are sometimes difficult to explain. As parents and role models, you are the first line of defense children have in being prepared to make tough decisions and their first safety net if they take a step off the right path. The Alcohol & Drug Abuse Council is proud to unveil a tool that can assist parents in remembering that they are the primary preventionist in the lives of their own children, and they have the ability to raise healthy, empowered children. Parents, after all, are the original SUPERHEROs!
Spend quality time: Between work, school, extracurricular activities, church and other obligations, it’s a miracle that we remember what our children look like! Whether you are sitting down to eat together or driving to school in the morning, capitalize on the time you have together to listen to your children and talk about your family values and expectations. When it comes to family time, remember quality over quantity!
Utilize supports and resources: Even superheroes need sidekicks! No parent or family has all the answers. Find out what resources are available in your community for prevention, education, intervention, and treatment of any issue that your child or family encounters that is too big to handle alone. San Angelo has many (mostly free!) supports waiting for you! Need help? Give us a call- 325-224-3481.
Promote good behavior: It is so easy to get caught up in problems and putting out fires that we sometimes forget the importance of acknowledging right choices and expectations our children meet. From a pat on the back to a special activity, the smallest reward is often enough to keep the good behavior coming!
Empower your child: Allow your child to make age-appropriate choices and deal with the consequences, negative or positive. Encouraging critical thinking and the weighing of consequences and reward. Discuss the outcomes of their decisions in relationship to your family values. Let your child know that you trust them to make choices and to ask for help when they need it!
Recognize changes: Prevention sometimes borders on early intervention. As a parent, you know your child’s routines, friends, and behaviors. While you may want to write off changes in in your child to “normal teenage stuff” or hormones, addressing changes early on in a non-judgmental and nonthreatening way can open lines of communication mean the difference between getting help and diverting a crisis.
Honor individuality: The fact is all people are different, including our kids. While it may be easier for you to relate to your basketball star daughter because you were an athlete in high school, your artistic son will need just as much of your time and encouragement to pursue his dreams. Remember that there is no one right path to happiness and success, so celebrate the things that are right for each of your children individually.
Establish boundaries: No two families are alike. They all have rules, styles of discipline, and values that make them unique. Take a look at how your words and behaviors communicate your values to your children. Be clear with the rules that govern your child’s safety and be a role model for the values that you want them to live by.
Reward achievements: Rewards aren’t just medals and trophies! Praise is one of the most meaningful rewards you can give your child when they accomplish a goal. If you know your child is working toward something, consider establishing a reward that can help them stay focused on achieving success!
Observe friendships: When our children are small we are their whole world. As they grow and develop friendships the influences they experience increase. Know who your child’s friends are; meet their parents and visit their homes. If there is conflict between your values and rules and those of their friends, talk with your child about how that should be addressed and, if necessary, place limitations on when and where your child spends time with that friend. Monitor sudden changes in friends or if your child withdraws from their friends. Both of these can be early signs of problem behaviors or social difficulties that you may want to address.