Family Prevention Strategies
To strengthen family management:
- Set clear rules and expectations for behavior in reference to alcohol, tobacco and other drug use; crime; and school attendance. Establish limits, and stick to them. Set curfews.
- Expect your children to go to school when they are well, maintain good grades and graduate from high school.
- Learn to say "no" without apologizing.
- Discipline with consistency. Avoid harsh or severe punishment.
- Allow no violence in your home.
- Teach your children and yourself anxiety- and stress-reduction strategies, like deep breathing or sitting quietly for several minutes.
- Supervise and monitor your children. Know where they are and whom they are with.
- Know your children's friends and their parents. If all parents set the same curfews and have similar rules, one child is not singled out for teasing.
- Don't allow your children to have friends over without your permission.
- Don't allow your children to go to anyone else's home without your permission, and don't let them go to someone's house if you don't know anyone there.
- Be home to supervise if your children plan to have parties. Make sure that a parent will be supervising if your children go to parties at others' houses.
- Remember that it is illegal for parents to serve alcohol to any children in their home other than their own. It also is illegal for any person to buy alcohol for a minor.
- Expect your children not to use alcohol or tobacco products if they are underage. Once children are of age, set clear rules about what will be allowed in your home.
- Keep family conflict to a minimum. Families facing divorce should participate in family support programs for parents and children.
- Get involved in a support group for parents; raising kids is tough.
- Attend parent education programs.
To emphasize parental attitudes that discourage involvement in crime and alcohol, tobacco and other drug use:
- Set clear rules and emphasize family, personal, public and legal consequences of involvement in crime and the use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.
- Give children accurate information about the long- and short-term health effects of using alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. But remember that kids think they are invincible; put more emphasis on the consequences of use, like bad breath and yellow teeth or loss of privileges.
- Let young people know that most other young people don't use drugs; tell them accurate use rates.
- Help your children be able to stand up to peer influences and to refuse alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. Teach them how to refuse a ride with someone who has been drinking or using other drugs.
- Encourage your children to participate in youth-oriented alcohol, tobacco and other drug prevention programs.
- Work with schools and communities to develop alcohol, tobacco and other drug policies and support their enforcement.
- Promise your children that if they ever need you to come pick them up from a party, you will do so without hesitation.
- Do not approve of your children breaking the law.
- Do not use illegal drugs if you expect your children not to use them.
- Avoid drinking and smoking in front of your children.
- If you drink alcohol, limit your consumption to a low-risk level. The nation's dietary guidelines define low-risk consumption of alcohol as no more than one drink a day for a woman and no more than two drinks a day for a man (no more than five days per week), consumed at a rate no faster than one drink per hour.
- Don't involve your children in your drinking or smoking by asking them to bring you a beer or a cigarette or to make you a mixed drink.
- Set a good example. Your children tend to do as you do.
- And remember that there are times to be a friend to your children and there are times to be a parent. Know when to be which.
To show you are involved in your children's lives:
- Help your children learn critical life skills, let them practice and then reward them for their efforts and achievements. Encourage schools to establish curricula that develop social-competence, communication, decision-making and refusal skills.
- Nurture your children and verbalize your pride in them.
- Spend time doing fun things with your children.
- Emphasize the importance of school and education.
- Ask your children if they have finished their homework and offer to be a resource.
- Meet your children's teachers and get involved with the school.
- Involve your children in afterschool programs.
- Know your children's friends and their parents.
- Watch television with your children and discuss what you see. Or turn off the television altogether and do something else with your kids.
- Listen more than you speak.
- Encourage and support your children's involvement in programs that help them with school, like a homework help line, tutoring, mentoring and peer programs, and youth-focused programs like Scouts and other clubs.
To keep your children involved in the family:
- Establish jobs and responsibilities for everyone in the home.
- Do things with your children that they will enjoy.
- Plan family events as a family.
- Be aware of where your children are and where they are going.
- When appropriate, solicit your children's input in family decisions that will affect them.
- Have regular family meals. Talk with your children about school, their friends and their activities.
- Ask more open-ended questions than those that require a "yes," "no" or "why" response.
To combat the effects of a family history of addiction:
- Attend families of alcoholics or addicts support groups and involve your children in these programs as well.
- Attend parent education programs.
To combat past problem behavior of siblings and step-siblings:
- Involve your children in programs developed for siblings and step-siblings of children who have been involved in alcohol, tobacco and other drug use; been suspended or expelled from school; belonged to a gang; or been involved in criminal activities, like carrying a handgun to school.
- Consider mentoring programs for siblings.
Key points to remember as parents:
- Alcohol and other drug addiction are treatable and curable diseases, not weaknesses.
- Don't belittle or shun those who have alcohol or other drug problems. They need the assistance and support of nonusers to get the help they need.
- And, most importantly, if any of your children have an alcohol or other drug problem, make sure they get the help they need. Talk to your spouse, a relative, a church leader, a counselor or a close friend. Or call 1-888-SC PREVENTS for information on prevention and treatment resources in your community.