Setting Rules for Your Teen's Free Time

When to talk to your children about drugs

Conversations when you suspect your teen's drug use

The Risks of "Experimentation"

How to talk to your kids about drugs if you did drugs

Young people use drugs for different reasons in different situations



Setting Rules for Your Teen's Free Time

Teens are less likely to use drugs, alcohol, and tobacco when parents set rules about risky behaviors. When a young person ponders whether or not to use drugs, a crucial consideration is:

What will my parents think? If you make your position on drug use clear and set rules and consequences for breaking them in advance, your teen is less likely to step over that line:

After discussing the rules, you may even want to write them down to avoid discrepancy over what was said.

Reprimands should involve mild, not severe, negative consequences. Taking away privileges or grounding teens for a weekend typically fit the bill. Severe punishments can undermine the parent-child relationship and lead to rebellious behavior.

Set a curfew and enforce it strictly. Be consistent. Be prepared to negotiate for special occasions like prom and holidays.

Have teens check in at regular times. If your teen has a cell phone, establish clear rules for using it (such as, "When I call you, I expect a call or text back within 10 minutes").

Check in with the party host. If your teen tells you he or she will be at a party or at a friend's house, do not be afraid to call those parents to make sure adult supervision is in place.

Make it easy to leave a party or hangout where drugs are being used. Discuss in advance how to signal you or another adult who will pick your teen up when he or she feels uncomfortable. Be prepared to talk about what happened once you get home.

Establish house rules. If your teen is at home alone for long periods of time, set clear rules about who else is allowed in the house — and who is not. Also be sure to set clear rules about what is off limits — such as the car, liquor cabinet, or medicine cabinet.

Recognize good behavior. If your teen is respecting your rules, compliment him or her for behaving admirably instead of focusing on what's wrong. When you are quicker to praise than to criticize, young people learn to feel good about themselves and develop the self-confidence to trust their own judgment as they grow into adulthood.

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