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Oct 23

Red Ribbon Week: Preventing Drug Abuse at Home

Red Ribbon Week is October 23-31 in the United States. Its purpose is to raise awareness about drug use among our youth. While your kids will likely hear about both of these topics at school, here’s what you can do to prevent bullying and drug abuse at home.

Set the Example

Your child’s healthy life starts with you. Keep away from drugs and powerful medicine without a prescription. If you struggle with alcohol or drug abuse, seek help right away. Though it may be difficult, the choices you make here affect more lives than your own now.

This also extends to bullying. Avoid spreading gossip and hurtful comments about your own peers. Children tend to follow their parents’ example, and may imitate you by being unkind to their classmates or neighbors. This kind of behavior may open the door later for falling into substance abuse.

Bad behavior may crop up in the media as well. You can avoid this type of media, or use it as a teaching opportunity. Discuss the effects of drugs, drinking, and bullying as these plotlines appear on TV or in the news. This can take the glamour off the media representation, and help them relate with something that they understand or enjoy.

Practice Good Communication

Start young with your children. Teach them about the important of a drug-free life. This means being open about the negative effects of drug abuse, and of what people might say to try to get them to take drugs. Help them commit to choices early, and to be prepared in case they encounter peer pressure.

Practice good communication in all aspects of your child’s life, and establish trust on both sides of your relationship. This means talking about their day, things they’re interested in, and new friends. By doing this, you’ll be able to catch odd changes or suspicious new peers before drugs can take root. They’ll be more likely to come to you with concerns about peer pressure and drug abuse rather than hide it from you.

Finally, watch and listen for signs that your children want to talk. If they are uncomfortable about something their friends want them to do, they may want to bring it up but be hesitant. Pay attention to those comments that hint at a desire to talk about social, romantic, or health impacts of drugs and peer pressure. When your children want to talk, help them assess this situation and find a solution. They have a different perspective than you, and this collaboration will help them build trust. They’ll know they can come to you for help in the future especially.

Be Positive

As you talk to your children about drugs, keep the conversation positive and loving. Don’t treat the conversation as a scare tactic! If your children see drug and alcohol talks as only “lecture time,” they’ll avoid talking to you. This can be dangerous if your child does happen to make a mistake, or if they face pressure from their friends. To keep them safe, show them that you’re coming from a place of love and education, rather than threatening them with punishment should they slip up.

Involve Yourself in Their Social Media

Teens especially can get upset about parents meddling in their social media lives. However, this is a great way for parents to see odd changes in their lives. Watch for suspicious statements, changes in their tone, or media that relates to drug culture.

However, be careful! Don’t embarrass them with excess interaction or hacking their accounts. This may cause your teen to quit social media and find new channels of communication that will be harder to monitor. Instead, keep discussions about social media to the home, and show interest in how your children express themselves. Again, use this as a connection opportunity rather than a time for lectures or arguments.

Take the Pledge

The Red Ribbon Pledge, which you can sign here, is for parents wanting to create a drug-free America. Familiarize yourself with its tenets, and make this pledge a standard in your home for parents and kids alike.

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