According to DrugRehab.com, every year, millions of teens try alcohol, marijuana or tobacco products for the first time. So, while it is important to begin the conversation with your teen about alcohol, tobacco and other drugs, it is equally important to follow up. Luckily, Rise Above It Lexington Two Community Coalition’s newest PSA series, “Not My Kid” (www.riseaboveitlexington.org/notmykid) can help with ways to STAY involved in your teen’s decision making:
Know what behaviors and moods are normal for your teen
Make it a habit to ask about their day when they get home from school. Pay attention to body language, any changes in tone or lack of interest in certain topics. Be receptive to signs that they are having a rough time or have something they may need to talk about.
Get well acquainted with their social groups and/or boyfriend or girlfriend
Although parents are the #1 influence, peer groups can also influence their behavior. Get to know who your teen spends their time away from home. You can do this by offering to drive them to social events like movies, sports games, practices etc. or inviting them over for safe and supervised activities. This will give you the opportunity to monitor their interaction.
Spend quality time with your teen
Even if it’s just a car ride, mall outing or eating dinner together regularly, spending quality time can make a world of a difference. Show interest in their hobbies and attempt to participate in activities that they enjoy. It will give you something to talk about while keeping them engaged.
Monitor your teen
Establish ground rules and sanctions if these rules are violated. If your teen goes out, set a curfew and wait up for them to make sure that they adhere to it. Be attentive to their response times, coherence and the scent of their clothes when they return. Ask questions about the outing and who was present. Make it a normal thing for you to get a recap of the night.
Add your teen on social networks to monitor what they are posting and who they are interacting with.
Stay in contact with other parents/neighbors so that even when you aren’t around, your teen knows that other adults are still paying attention.