Talking Tips: Ages 13-17
They might start slamming their door, but be sure to keep yours open.
As teens enter high school, they are faced with lots of challenges including being curious or pressured to try drugs and alcohol. There will be many opportunities for parents to have open, honest conversations with their teens about this topic. TalkSooner is here to share some useful tips and techniques to help parents feel more confident when it comes to having the drug talk.
Most parents want to start talking, just don’t know where to start. So what does the conversation look like?
Listen, really listen!
Give your teen your undivided attention. Allow them to freely share their opinions, questions, concerns, feelings.
Recognize and respond.
Stay in the boundaries of the current conversation. It’s easy to jump to a prior agenda or allow your agenda to take over. Seize the opportunity to embrace your teen’s viewpoints.
Keep it casual.
Allow for these conversations to happen in the car, over dinner, or during game night. Remember these conversations should not be a one-time thing.
Watch your language.
Use open-ended questions to get your teen thinking critically. You can also discuss scenarios or ask them to share things they have seen and or heard and coach them through how they would respond.
Show support and offer help.
During every conversation with your teen about drugs and alcohol, let them know they can always come to you for information and advice.
Set clear & realistic expectations
Remember the old saying, “say what you mean, mean what you say.” This saying comes in handy when setting expectations about drugs and alcohol with your teen.
Speak directly to the point.
Avoid using general statements like “I know you will do the right thing” or “you know what I expect.”
When setting expectations, encourage your teen to ask questions when things are not clear.
Be ready to answer tough questions.
Teens often want to know why. Be prepared to give the facts. Be prepared to answer questions about your own drug and alcohol use, morals, and views.
Bring in Reinforcement.
Keep reminding your teen of your expectations. Look for opportunities, such as when prom is approaching, you've read a news story about a teen involved with drugs, or when you are watching a movie together and a character references drug use.
Teens are Social. Know Their Influences.
Be a Role Model.
Even when you think they’re not watching, they are. Even when they no longer think you are a ‘cool’ parent, they are watching. Do your best to lead by example both inside and outside of the home. This includes other adults and community members. Share your views with key adults in your teen’s life and ask for their help reinforcing your expectations.
Friends and Peers.
Simply put, get to know them. Know with whom and where your teen is hanging out. During high school, friends and peers can be the most influential. Don’t forget that family members can be considered a friend or a peer too. Share your expectations with your teen as well as their friends.
In today’s world, we are surrounded by media, including your teen. As a parent, you want your teen to come to you with questions instead of finding answers from unreliable sources. Know what media your teen is exposed to and how they may be influenced by it. Music, video games, commercials, movies, and more - all can influence your teen’s views on drugs and alcohol.