Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Summer Safety Tip #2 :: Be Open

This week we continue our Summer Safety campaign -- 4 Tips for Keeping your Teens Safe This Summer. Last week we touched on the Be Involved tip. This week we will focus on being open with your teenagers. As parents we have a great responsibility to teach and guide our children through life with wisdom. It can be a tricky balance to play the parent role while being open and honest with your teen about expectations and the dangers of this world. We hope these tips will help you.

photo credit: NIAAA
Summer Safety Tip #2::
Be Open

Talk with your teens about drinking: the laws, the dangers, the consequences.
Because parents have a tremendous influence on whether or not their kids choose to do drugs it is important to talk with them openly. First educate yourself about the dangers of teen substance use. You can visit the Time to Talk website for more information. Once you feel your have a grasp on what you want to say, communicate the risks and consequences to your kids through frequent conversations. You can find more information about the Indiana laws on the state website.

Set clear expectations and guidelines, and consistently enforce them. Parents often try to be friends with their children. It's more important to be a parent—to establish rules, set limits and help children learn to be safe and healthy. Here are some helpful rule-making tips:

  • Set clear rules and discuss in advance the consequences of breaking them.
  • Allow your teen to have a say in the creation of a rule
  • Consistently enforce the rules.
  • Have teens check in at regular times when they are away from home or school.
  • Call parents whose home is used for a party (offer to help with snacks or supervision).
  • Make it easy for your teen to leave a party where alcohol is being used.
  • Listen to your instincts—don't be afraid to intervene if your gut reaction tells you something is wrong.
  • Allow natural consequences to play out in the situation—be supportive, but let your teen deal with the resulting consequences.
  • Use "teachable moments" to talk to your teen about alcohol use.
Make it easy for them to share information about their lives. Listen to and respect what they have to say.
Communicating with teenagers can be challenging, to say the least. Although most teens seem quite adept at communicating with other teenagers, talking to parents can be a somewhat different experience. For parents of teenagers, learning a little about teens can help make communication less frustrating and allow open discussions about important issues. Here are some teen communication tips: 
  • Talk often. The more you talk with each other, the more you have the chance to share important messages. Plan times around your busy schedule. Good times for talking are driving to and from school and other activities, at the dinner table, before bed and during family outings. 
  • Listen. Give your full attention and pay attention to verbal and nonverbal cues. 
  • Don't Judge. 
  • Show care and concern.
  • Have respect for your teens ideas. 
  • Appreciate your teen for who they are and acknowledge our gratitude that they want you to be a part of their life.
Share practical ways to resist alcohol, and provide them with ideas for having fun without it.

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