Getting ready for the upcoming school year isn’t all about notebooks, brand-new clothes and lunchboxes. It’s also about preparing your child for a new transition and laying the foundation for good communication.
Questions about drugs and alcohol will inevitably come up during the school year as your son or daughter meets different friends, encounters unfamiliar social situations and is exposed to pop culture and media.
To help parents, the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids has assembled this virtual backpack. Not only will it better equip your child during this transition, it’s filled with tips and tools for talking, listening and improving your overall communication so that when your child has questions about drugs and alcohol, you will be the one he or she turns to.
- Prevent drug use at every age.
From preschool to young adulthood find out what to say.
- Learn about drugs in your teen’s world.
–Our Drug Guide will give you the facts to keep your teen safe (pdf).
–Download our free mobile app for Android phones and iPhones for easy access to information on drugs most commonly abused by teens — including photos, slang terms and short- and long-term effects.
- Listen to what these moms have to say.
Partnership moms give their 10 best back-to-school tips.
- Set Limits.
While your teen’s judgment skills are developing, she needs you to keep her safe by setting clear limits backed up with firm consequences.
- Become a better listener.
- Starting a new school? Help your child make good choices during this critical time.
- Talk about marijuana.
Find out how to have meaningful, productive conversations with your teen about marijuana.
- Help end medicine abuse.
More teens are abusing prescription medicine than ever. Here’s what you can do to help.
- Encourage healthy competition.
Help your student athlete embrace healthy, drug-free competition.
- Write a contract.
Establish rules (in writing) about drugs and alcohol that you both agree to (pdf).
For the past couple of weeks, but this week in particular, we’re beginning to see a ton of first-day-of-school photos blanket our Facebook news feed. While we’re still a few weeks out in New York City, we are gearing up too, and have some tried-and-true “back-to-school” tips from our moms on staff – with kids ranging in age from 2 months to 20 years – as discussed over the water cooler this August:
BEFORE THE FIRST DAY:
- Kid bedtimes can look more like a grown-up’s in the summer. Gradually move up bedtime to get your kids back on their school sleep schedule a couple of weeks before the first day of school.
- Buy all the back-to-school supplies a couple of weeks ahead. This helps prevent the last-minute scrambling (and panic!) that begins to set in as items become sold out and harder to find.
- It’s helpful to involve your kids in the back-to-school shopping experience too – choosing fun lunch boxes and backpacks can generate excitement about starting the new school year.
DURING THE SCHOOL YEAR:
- Do all that you can to prepare the night before. That means clothes have been selected, backpacks are ready and by the door, and lunches are packed. It makes the morning much less hectic.
- Put all of important school dates in your calendar as soon as you get them. It doesn’t guarantee that you will be able to attend every school event, but it increases the odds!
- And speaking of school events, give yourself a pass (or three) at the start of the year that you won’t be able to attend/volunteer/show up to all of them, and let your kids know too. It’s okay – the times you are there will be treasured by both parent and child.
- Get creative when it comes to finding out what happened at school. One way we’ve done this is by asking “What was the best part of your day?” or “What was the worst part of your day?” Or “Tell me something funny/amazing/ridiculous that happened to you today.”
- Packing lunches can be a monotonous chore, but it doesn’t have to be. Have the kids select their own healthy snacks for lunch while you are shopping. When they get older, have them pack their own lunch, and even pack yours (you’ll definitely find some surprises.)
ALL YEAR LONG:
- Have your child pick out a backpack or school supplies to donate to a classroom for students who may be without classroom essentials. Or consider making a donation to your favorite nonprofit that supports families, like the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. Take time to explain to your child why you’re giving and the importance of supporting causes and helping others.
- Keep talking, keep listening, keep learning. Whether your child is toddling through preschool or meandering through middle school, have ongoing conversations with your child about the risks of drugs and alcohol at every age. One place to get started is our Parent Toolkit.
The post Partnership Moms Give Their 10 Best Back-to-School Tips appeared first on Partnership for Drug-Free Kids.
Remember: the best way to find out what is going on with your child is to, well, find out what’s going on with him. Lecturing won’t get you there. A back-and-forth conversation could. Just talking to your child is only half the job. You can keep the lines of communication open by knowing how to listen and when to talk.
• Create a safe environment for your child to share the truth. Assure your child that he can always be honest with you – without fear of ridicule or blame.
• Put your smartphone down and don’t allow any interruptions while you’re talking to your teen.
• Listen to your child vent. Sometimes she just needs to complain and get things off her chest.
• Rephrase your teen’s comments to show him you’ve heard what he’s saying or give nonverbal support and encouragement by nodding and smiling.
• Be attentive for topics that lead into drugs or alcohol (Example: perhaps your teen describes someone at school who is “always high” or mentions a celebrity who has gone to rehab.) Ask your teen what she thinks about those people or their behavior.
• Focus completely on your child and try to see things from your child’s point of view. This will help you sympathize with his situation.
• Be aware that your child could be hiding his true feelings out of fear, embarrassment, or something else, and you should be careful to not just take what the child says at face value.
• Listen between the words. Pay attention to body language, facial expressions, difficulty finding the right words to use, etc.
• Recognize and confess when you don’t have the energy to be a good listener and agree to restart the conversation (as long as it isn’t dire) at a later, better time.
Now that you’ve learned to how to be a better listener, take this quiz (pdf) to see how good you are.