The Power of Choice – Middle School Edition
February 2024, Issue 3
Let your child know you’re watching out for them
As your child gets older, it’s natural to gain more independence. It’s important for young people to have the confidence to move through the world on their own. As a parent, it’s a crucial time to continue strengthening bonds that will help maintain your trusting relationship with your child. Set clear expectations about not drinking underage so they can anticipate the consequences if they are ever put in that situation. Talk about healthy coping skills with your child so they have the resources to be able to choose to be alcohol-free. Paying attention to how your child is coping with stress is important. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and be genuinely curious about your child’s life. This is a great way to build a safe space for your child to be open and honest.
Set Clear Expectations
It’s very possible that your child may not encounter a situation where they are faced with underage substance use. But it’s important that your child will know what to expect if they are caught making that choice. Let your child know that you do not allow underage drinking, but also that you will be there to pick them up, or provide a ride home if needed. Let your child know that they can use you as an excuse for not using, i.e. “I can’t, my parents would make my life miserable!” The goal isn’t to scare them, rather to inform them on your family expectations. Let them know that in addition to family consequences, they may also face repercussions at their school or with their sports teams. Also, prolonged use can affect both physical and mental health. Let your child know about these facts before they are faced with making a decision, so they will have the knowledge to make an informed decision. Some teens may not know the effects of drinking underage, and it’s important to educate them in a calm and clear way.
Talk About Healthy Coping Skills
Some teens may unknowingly use substances as a way to cope with the difficult parts of life. It‘s important to have conversations about coping with stress, anxiety, sadness, frustration, etc. Share about your own life, and what things have worked for you when you’re feeling overwhelmed or upset. Check in with your teen about their mental health, and take their thoughts and feelings seriously. Let your child know that you are there for them, and they can always talk to you. Setting the pattern of using healthy coping skills at a young age can help set your child up for success in the future. As a parent, it’s important to model what healthy coping looks like. Be mindful of statements like “Today’s been so hard, I need a drink!” They are listening.
Be In the Know
A great way to stay connected in your child’s life is to show genuine interest. Keep up with who their friends are, and get to know who your child is spending time with. Ask your child about their friendships, their sports or activities, or their interests, and be curious about their personalities. It’s easy to forget that kids do have whole lives at school and away from home- so ask them about it! Some young people may be more reluctant to share personal details right away, so frame questions generally rather than focused on your child specifically.
Vaping Prevention at Your Child’s School
Check out the latest Power of Choice Middle School vaping campaign poster. Students will see these posted throughout their hallways and on television screens, reminding them that their health matters! Each material provides facts and information on the potentially harmful effects e-cigarettes can have on their growing bodies.
You can view the materials on our website here.
Funded in part by the Illinois Department of Human Services, Division of Substance Use Prevention and Recovery through a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration.