Early Interventions

I recently had the privilege of working with United Way of Broward County at an event sponsored by the local school board. United Way gave out copies of my book and I was present to talk to people about why I wrote the book and my hopes of how it will help people. United Way was founded in 1887 in Denver, Colorado and now has affiliates all over the world. Their goal is to improve the lives of people by providing awareness about mental health, substance abuse prevention, good health, and other concerns that are essential to having a strong community. To learn more about the United Way in your area and what is available for substance abuse prevention, click on this link: https://unitedway.org/

An article in the North Dakota State University publication, “A Parent’s Role in Substance Use Prevention: Tips for Talking to Youth of All Ages,” provides helpful information for parents. “Youth who begin using addictive substances (tobacco, alcohol, illegal over the counter or prescription drugs) before the age of 15 are nearly seven times more likely to develop a substance abuse problem, compared with those who delay first use until age twenty-one or older.” The article lists signs that a child may be using drugs: lower grades, changing friends quickly, unusual health and sleeping issues, failing relationships with the family, and is more secretive and dishonest. There is also information on why teens use drugs and ways in which parents should talk to them about substance abuse. To read the entire article, click on this link: https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/publications/kids-family/a-parents-role-in-substance-use-prevention-tips-for-talking-to-youth-of-all-ages

“Cyberbullying is when someone uses technology to harass, threaten, embarrass or target another person.” Signs that your child may be a victim of cyberbullying include: he/she is upset after using the computer or phone; secretive about their internet use; spending more time isolated from the family; withdrawal from usual activities; and shows anxiety when texted or emailed. More information can be found at: https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/cyberbullying.html

“Home drug-testing kits sold on the internet may make it easy for parents to test their children for illegal substances, but that approach may not be the best idea. There are some possible drawbacks that parents need to consider before deciding to drug-test their kids.” There are usually two reasons that parents buy home drug-testing–. . .”as a preventive measure and as an investigative tool.” Read the information at: https://www.verywellmind.com/parents-warned-about-home-drug-testing-63771

“Growing Up Drug Free–A Parent’s Guide to Prevention” is a publication from the DEA. It provides resources for teens and parents, what kind of drugs teens use and why they use, how parents can talk to their child about drugs, and has a chart to help identify drugs. https://www.dea.gov/sites/default/files/2018-06/growing-up-drug-free-2017.pdf

There are numerous books available to teenagers to help them increase their self-confidence. Among there are “Self-esteem for teens” and “The Self-Esteem Habit for Teens.” Both books are written by Lisa M. Schab, LCSW.

Adolescents with high self-esteem are more apt to make healthy decisions than those who think little of themselves. Parents can help their children by encouraging them to develop their own values, make choices, and let them be a part of making family decisions. For more information, read “How Can Adults Help Teens Make Better Decisions” in: NYmetroparents.com. https://www.nymetroparents.com/article/what-adults-can-do-to-help-adolescents-make-better-behavior-choices

According to Parenting.com, there are eight simple ways to increase your child’s self-esteem. They are: 1) Allow the child to make reasonable choices to let them feel empowered; 2) Don’t do everything for your child; 3) Teach them that nobody is perfect, including them; 4) Give only honest praise; 5) Assign chores that are appropriate to their age; 6) Don’t compare your children; 7) Don’t call your child names or use sarcasm; and 8) Spend time doing things with them one to one. More resources about self-esteem are listed on the “Resource” page

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Center for disease Control have developed a guide for pediatricians to conduct a drug screening of their patients starting at the age of nine years old. Parents should be aware of this information and speak to their pediatricians about screening their child. For more information, read the article: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/fasd/features/teen-substance-use.html

I came across a book that will help parents deal with peer pressure. “Hold On to Your Kids,” teaches parents how to “reattach to sons and daughters, establish the proper hierarchy in the home, make kids feel safe and understood, and earn back your children’s loyalty and love.” In this day and age of social media and other distractions, it is important to have open communication with our children and I think this book is an excellent tool for parents to have. The authors are Gordon Neufeld, Ph.D. and Gabor Mate, M.D.

Keeping an open line of communication with your child when he/she is young will help it continue and strengthen during their teenage years. Steps to communicate successfully are: listen to what they have to say without prying; validate their feelings; show them that you trust them by asking them to do favors and showing your faith in them; don’t be a dictator; praise your child; spend time together; eat meals together and observe them without interfering. More information can be found at: https://childmind.org/article/tips-communicating-with-teen/

This story appeared in USA Today. It discusses the opioid epidemic in America and why it’s not being discussed even though the numbers are high in 2020. https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/voices/2020/10/16/opioid-epidemic-coronavirus-isolation-support-struggle-column/3666992001/?fbclid=IwAR0aIfCzI_2-c7KhElldMo4kCpMjJyzqmNqspb7IsbvyCMq6iMJPgMlY6dw

Partnership to End Addiction provides guidelines for parents on how to educate your child at various ages in order to prevent drug use. During the pre-teen years, it is important for the child to be aware of your rules about drugs, alcohol, and nicotine. Praising your child’s strengths helps them build self-awareness and confidence. Know their peers and the parents to make sure your child has positive influences. Spend time watching television and movies with them, explaining the difference between reality and fantasy. Teenagers, thirteen to eighteen years old, also need to be aware of the rules and consequences of drug use. Praise your child’s strengths and show interest in their activities. Build trust with them. Young adults, nineteen to twenty-five years of age, need to be aware of how to seek help should they have signs of mental health issues. Keep communication open, letting them know that they can come to you at any age. More information is available on drugfree.org.

When a child enters first grade, it is possible to determine whether or not they exhibit behaviors that may be early indicators of drug use later buin life. Two important risk factors are shyness and aggression, which includes anger, noncompliance, temper, rebelliousness, lack of responsibility, and deviance. If these behaviors are exhibited at school or home, the parent should seek professional help for their child. Many schools offer counseling for students with a mental health person. There may also be behavioral specialists in the school that can work with the student to make behavior changes. If these resources are not available, call 211 (a referral helpline that is available in most states) for assistance in your area about counseling. By paying attention to the warning signals when your child is young, with appropriate services, you may be able to keep your child from going down the wrong path. (Information obtained from National Institutes of Health.)

Early intervention is the best way to help keep your teenager from taking the wrong path. By staying involved in his/her life and showing support lets them know that you care about their welfare. Keeping communication open and being involved in their activities, while still showing that you want them to be independent, builds a strong bond with your child. Monitoring their electronic devices and limiting the use can help prevent problems. Keep communication open with teachers and coaches to check on your child, and to let them know that you are involved because you love them. Most important of all, tell them that you love them and that you will always be there for them. https://drugfree.org/article/connecting-with-your-teen/

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