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Prevention: Tips for Middle School-Aged Child

Help Your Child Have Good Friends
• Know who your child is with and what they are doing.
• Get to know your child’s friends and, where possible, support them in choosing friends who have a positive influence on their behavior.
• Help your child understand what values to look for in friends while in middle school – in particular, honesty, kindness and good judgment. These learned skills help them develop healthier friendships throughout their teenage years.
• Try to make sure there is adult supervision when your child is with their friends
• Talk to their friend’s parents about your rules concerning alcohol and other drugs.

Start the Conversation – First Steps for Talking to Your Child
• Know the facts: The younger a child starts to use alcohol and other drugs, the more likely they are to run into problems now, and in the future.
• You might find it easier to start a conversation by talking about a celebrity who is struggling with a drug or alcohol problem. Or you might ask them if they know anyone in school or the neighborhood who they think might be a drug user. Ask them what they know about drugs and if they have any questions.
• Make sure they understand that prescription drugs can be just as dangerous as street drugs, if they are not taken under the supervision of a doctor or used in wrong doses.

Stay Involved
• Spend time with your child and involve them in healthy activities.

Set Clear Ground Rules. Then Enforce Them.
• Set ground rules so that your children know how you feel about substance misuse. Let them know that alcohol, other drug use or misuse of prescriptions is simply unacceptable.
• Discuss with your children the privileges you plan to restrict if they do not follow the rules. For example, take away their video games or cell phone privileges for a set period of time. Follow through with your plans if rules are broken.
• Reward them when they do well.

Questions about Your Own Use
• Your children look up to you and may copy your behavior. That is why it is important that you are thoughtful about what they hear you say or see you do.
• When your child asks questions about your own alcohol or other drug use sharing details may be harmful. Research suggests that when you describe past drug use to your child, you may be undercutting your message that they must stay away from drugs.
• Keep the focus on your child.
• If you are concerned about your own use of alcohol, or other drugs, click here

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Posted June 2015
Disclaimer: The contents of this website are not intended to offer specific medical advice and should not be used for diagnosing or treating particular conditions. For questions about your own health, ask your doctor.