Helping Them Say No to Drugs
The CIA is proud to be at the forefront of the War on Drugs, but we only win this war with everyone’s help. Studies show that the children least likely to use drugs are from homes where parents talk to their children openly about the negative impact of drug/alcohol use. Parents, by their example, have significant influence over their children.
Here are some ways that you can help our children “Just Say No”:
1. Set Rules
It’s important to set clear rules and consequences. It’s equally important to carry through with punishment. Don’t let your children off the hook if they disobey. Punishments should be reasonable but must contain negative consequences.
Have your children check in with you at regular times when they’re away from home or school. Set up specific times for calls and to go over their plans and where they will be, if there are variances. When you call them, they should return the call as soon as possible.
Children, as part of their responsibility in attending social functions, must provide parents with “Who, What, Where, When” information. You can be proactive by making sure adult supervision is in place at a party your child attends. Call the host parents to go over details. You can also take your child to the door to say hello, offer help, or just to ensure adults are present. Trust your instincts. If you sense something is wrong, don’t be afraid to step in.
Make it easy for your children to leave a situation where drugs or alcohol show up. If they feel uncomfortable, tell them to contact you or another designated adult. They can pretend that they missed a call from you so they can call home and clue you in by saying, “Why do I have to come home early?” You can then provide an excuse for them and go get them.
Know your child’s friends and their parents. Try to make informal, regular contact with those parents at school functions or around your children’s social activities.
Talk to your children about potential drug/alcohol situations and encourage them to tell you about experiences they or their friends have had and how they’ve resolved them. Help them pick good anti-peer-pressure “excuses” such as, “I’m an athlete and I can’t do that,” or “My parents will ground me forever.”
Having prepared excuses can make it easier for children in stressful situations. Going over the responses until they’re second nature is another good technique. You can practice through role-playing by pretending to be a friend pushing them to experiment. Teach them to change the subject, asking about a friend’s particular interests – like music or movies – just to push along the conversation.
Initiate discussions on peer pressure based on situations you have witnessed. “I saw you and Johnny playing in the neighbors’ yard today, and you know we talked about not doing that.” Teach your children to respect rules and stand up to their friends firmly, though in a friendly manner. Encourage your child to stand up for themselves and what they believe early in their lives or they will always rely on you to “save” them. Again, remember children imitate the behavior they see in you.
Reinforce your child’s assertiveness. Tell them you are proud when you know they’ve stood up to peer pressure and/or made a good decision.