Your child likely knows or will know people who use drugs and other illegal substances, so it’s important to talk about how to deal with social pressures that he will face. The best way to build social coping skills is to start talking about dealing with pressure early and often in childhood and all the way into young adulthood.
The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids’ (2018) web page, (https://drugfree.org/article/prevention-tips-for-every-age/), assists parents in helping kids build these coping skills. The website is organized with advice starting at age five and going through young adulthood. There are specific scenarios and examples of what parents can say. In one scenario, a preteen learns that other kids are selling prescription drugs at school. The parent is advised to say, “I heard there are kids selling pills that either they are taking or someone in their family takes. Have you heard about kids doing this? … If you’re ever offered drugs at school,” you can say, “My mother would kill me if I took that and then she wouldn’t let me play baseball,” (Partnership for Drug-Free Kids (2018). Check out this website for other specific ideas at https://drugfree.org
Teens will sometimes find themselves in bad situations where they aren’t sure what to do. They’d like to call home and have you come and pick them up, but they are afraid they will get into trouble. Let your child know in advance that he can always call you, and you’ll come and pick him up if he is in a bad situation and wants out (Child Development Institute, 2015). If your child decides to stay and gets in trouble, you can determine if he is allowed to hang out with that group of friends or not.
It’s important to set boundaries with your child including a curfew. If curfew or other boundaries are broken, your child needs to know that you’ll follow through with the consequences that you’ve set. “When you make rules and don’t stick to them, your child is less likely to follow them,” (Child Development Institute, 2015). Rules change and grow as new circumstances arise and as your child moves towards adulthood. The important thing is that you are communicating what your expectations are in advance and following through with your word.
A big factor of staying out of trouble or getting into trouble is your child’s friends. It’s best if kids have lots of friends or a small group of really good friends. If some friends start to get into trouble, your child can hang out with other kids. Having just a few friends can be troubling in a bad situation because your child may decide to stay with the group instead of being alone. If your child is shy, work with him to develop confidence in making friends, and help him think through what makes a good friend.
Get to know your child’s friends and their parents. Make your home a place that your child can hangout and feel welcome. You can keep a better eye on things that happen in your own home.
We can’t possibly think of all of the situations that our child may face, so we need to prepare him to think ahead about how he would deal with a multitude of situations. Kids need to know that they are in control of their decisions and should practice self-control (Bordini, 2018).
Another great way to help kids deal with social pressures is to develop confidence, stress coping, and problem-solving skills. In future articles, I will cover specific ideas on these topics.
Talk often with your child about what you would do if faced with a situation and ask your child what he would do. Keep the lines of communication open and communicate often. Hopefully, some of these ideas can help you help your child prepare for temptations he is likely to face.
If you are in need of help or know someone in need of help for a drug addiction, below are some current resources in Shelby County that might be of assistance:
• Counseling for Wellness (Mental Health Outpatient) — 937-492-9355;
• FOA — Families of Addicts (Support- Locations Vary) — 937-307-5479;
• Family Resource Center of Northwest OH — 937-710-4616;
• Dr. Fred Sacks PhD & Associates, Dr. Sara Pleiman (Mental Health Outpatient) — 937-492-9900;
• SafeHaven, Inc. — HOPE Line 937-451-3232 or 855-276-4673, 937-658-6930;
• Samaritan Works (Other Recovery Services) — 937-492-9136, ext. 108;
• Shelby County Counseling Center (Mental Health/Addictions Outpatient, Other Recovery Services — sliding fee scale basis dependent on household income) — 937-492-8080;
• Sidney-Shelby Co. Health Dept. — 937-498-7249;
• Shelby House (men) or Miami House (women) at 937-332-0021
• 24/7 Tri-County Crisis Text Line, 800-351-7347;
• Wilson Memorial Hospital Behavioral Health Center (Other Recovery Services) — 937-498-5578.
This is one article in a series of articles written with the backing of the Shelby County Drug Task Force Education and Prevention Committee with the goal of increasing awareness and developing supports to prevent substance use.
Julie Willoughby, Ph.D., is a parent advocate for Shelby County Drug Task Force Education and Prevention Committee. She also is the principal of Urbana North Elementary School.