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. 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 - here are two to get you started:
- Most middle school-aged youth in Massachusetts don't use alcohol, or other drugs. Most use prescription drugs only if their doctor prescribes them.
- The younger a child starts to use alcohol and other drugs, the more likely it is that they will run into problems now, and in the future
Spend time with your child involving them in healthy activities.
Set clear ground rules. Then enforce them.
- Set ground rules so that your children know what is acceptable behavior. 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 should not use.
- Keep the focus on your child
If you are concerned about your own use of alcohol, or other drugs, visit the Massachusetts Substance Use Helpline’s website for more information or a referral to treatment in your area.
Seeking help for your child
If you are concerned about your child’s use of alcohol, other drugs or misuse of prescriptions, the Department’s Bureau of Substance Addiction Services can help.
For free and confidential information and referral services for youth and young adults (up to age 24) who are experiencing a problem with alcohol, or other drugs, contact the Massachusetts Substance Use Helpline at helplinema.org or 1-800-327-5050.