Start talking early and often with your child about alcohol, recreational drugs and unprotected sex. Help him develop strategies to resist peer pressure.
Work together on positive ways to achieve social acceptance. Keep in mind that social acceptance is a common reason why tweens and teens engage in risky behavior.
Try not to lecture your child when you talk about these things. Instead, be supportive. Ask him to help come up with suggestions and to give you feedback on yours. It often helps to use statistics and other outside sources instead of simply stating your opinions. And last but not least, try to practice what you preach and be a good role model.
What you can say
“Jacob, I know there’s a lot of peer pressure on kids to use drugs or drink alcohol. But drugs and underage drinking are not only illegal. They can hurt and even kill people. I love you, and I don’t want you to do something that could have a negative impact on the rest of your life.”
“This is why your father and I don’t use illegal drugs. It’s also why we want you to be strong and stand up to this kind of peer pressure. If your friends want you to do something you aren’t comfortable with, whether it’s drugs or drinking or having sex, let them know you’ve made a decision not to do those things.”
“I’ll help you find some cool ways to practice how to refuse these offers so you’re not worried about losing your friends or being called names when you refuse to follow along.
Your friends may not say it out loud, but they’ll respect you for it. I bet many of them secretly wish they had the kind of courage you do.”
Why this will help
Talking early and often about risky behavior is particularly important for children with attention issues. That’s because they often act impulsively and seek new forms of stimulation to help them focus and stave off boredom.
Using information from outside sources—such as doctors, coaches, celebrities and government statistics—will help some kids come around to their parents’ point of view.
Having conversations rather than giving lectures will show your child you value his ideas and are confident in his ability to make decisions. Your message will also be better received if you don’t engage in the kind of risky behavior you’re warning your child not to do.