Drug Prevention: Grades 7 to 9
The early teenage years can be both exciting and confusing for kids. They want to be independent and have adult responsibilities but they cling to the familiar for reassurance. They seek approval from other teens and are easily swayed by the attitudes and behaviors of their peer group. This is also the first time that kids get to make choices that have a lasting impact—not just about their clothing for the day or what they want for lunch. In addition, young teens often experience huge changes in their bodies, emotional lives, and relationships. This is the time when many young people try alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs for the first time.
Tips for Parents
Here are some important steps:
- Stay involved. Even though they may pretend not to, your kids do listen. Continue to spend private time with your child. Ask about what's going on in their lives and really listen to what they tell you. Know what your kids are doing—ask where they're going, what they're doing, and who they'll be with.
- Know your kids' friends and their parents. Many young people use drugs because their friends use drugs. Plan supervised parties or other activities for your child in your home that reflect a no-alcohol/no-drug use rule. For example, have your child invite friends to share a pizza and watch a movie. Work with other parents to set up consistent rules and curfews.
- Set clear rules and enforce them. From curfew to no alcohol and drug use, be consistent in your rules and discipline. Research shows that kids are less likely to use tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs if their parents have set clear rules and consequences for breaking those rules.
- Explain the dangers of alcohol, smoking, and drug use. Be sure your child understands that drinking and using drugs are dangerous and illegal. Emphasize the immediate, unpleasant effects of alcohol and drug use—bad breath, stained teeth and fingers, and burned clothing are more likely to make an impression than talking about lung cancer or heart disease. Ask what your kids have learned about drugs and alcohol at school, and build on these topics in conversations at home. Do this regularly so kids know that they can talk to you about drugs and alcohol. Be firm in your position, but also allow your teen to ask questions and voice his opinion.
- Practice ways to say no with your child. Teach your child to recognize problem situations, such as being at a house where no adults are present and people are smoking or drinking beer. Make up situations in which your child may be asked to try alcohol and other drugs and let the child practice saying no using strategies you've developed together. Try many situations until you are confident that your child knows how to say no. Let them know they can always call you for help.
- Help your kids feel good about themselves. Compliment your child on the things she does well and help her to see her strengths as an individual. Also, make it easier for her to make good decisions by having healthful foods available, being supportive of extra curricular activities, and planning family events.
Partnership for a Drug-Free America
The Substance Abuse and Mental
Health Services Administration
National Institute on Drug Abuse
Grades 7-9. Partnership for a Drug-Free America.
Available at: http://www.drugfreeamerica.org/Templates/
Accessed September 18, 2003.
Last reviewed September 2003 by
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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