recent study shows such programming is not enough to keep kids from using alcohol and marijuana. Researchers from North Carolina State University, Brigham Young University, and Penn State took a closer look at data collected in the second wave of the National Education Longitudinal Study (NELS), which surveyed the same group of students when they were in eighth grade and then in twelfth grade. Their analysis showed that parental involvement and the home environment have a more significant effect on adolescents' decisions not to use alcohol or marijuana than school programs.While I doubt anyone would argue the importance of drug and alcohol prevention programs in schools, a
Are you doing enough to prevent your kids from using alcohol and marijuana? Consider these suggestions to create the positive family environment that, according to this study, should deter adolescents from substance use.
Get involved. The study found that parental involvement and availability were key factors in preventing kids from using alcohol and marijuana. Build a trusting relationship with your kids by being open to conversations about all aspects of their lives, showing an interest in your kids' activities, and staying involved with their schoolwork. Consider making it a point to sit down to dinner together as a family at least once a week and spend time focusing the conversation on each child, one at a time.
Try to avoid punishment. The researchers suggest that concentrating on rules and punishment could actually increase drug use. Proactively discuss the reality of alcohol and marijuana use and your expectations that your kids avoid it, but try to make your conversations educational rather than threatening. Personally, because I respected and trusted my mom's opinions, simply knowing she'd be disappointed in me if I chose to use alcohol or drugs in high school did more to deter me than the fear of being grounded.
Show interest in their peer relationships. Kids who have relationships with users of alcohol and marijuana may have greater access to these substances and convince each other that the behavior is acceptable. In her book "Your Kids at Risk," Dr. Meg Meeker, an expert on teen issues, advises, "The best way to find out what your teen is involved in is to ask what his friends are up to." Encourage your kids to have any new friends over to your house at least once, so you can meet them and get a sense for what kind of influence they might be in your kids' lives.
Be a positive role model. It probably goes without saying, but your personal actions speak volumes to your kids. The researchers advise in their study, "Parents who are heavy users themselves, or who comment negatively about drug policies, might send repeated messages that drug use is acceptable or enjoyable." Teach your kids to respect alcohol by using it in moderation and reinforce the values you'd like them to adopt.
What suggestions do you have for effectively preventing kids from using alcohol and marijuana?