Helping Parents Prevent Youth Substance Abuse

Know Your Child’s Friends

Knowing who your child’s friends are and what they are like helps you to be more prepared to intervene if a problem occurs.

A wise person once said, "Show me your friends and I'll show you your future." Belonging to a stable and positive peer group can be a critical experience for your child in promoting confidence, desire to perform well in school, and engage in healthy activities. Here are some tips to help you be better aware of your child’s friends and assist your child in developing healthy friendships:

1. Ask questions about their friends (Example: “What’s your new friend Jake like? What kind of activities is Kira into?”)

2. Have direct conversations with your child’s friends whenever the opportunity presents itself so that you get to know them and their household rules in a positive context. Developing these ties will allow you to guide your child and make it easier to communicate if a problem arises later.

3. Explain that it’s normal to want to be accepted by others but it’s best to focus on friends who are not engaging in substance use. Remind your child that most teens do not drink or use drugs regularly. Let her know that she has a choice in how she interacts with her friends and if she is disappointed by her friends she is free to make new friends. Guide your teen toward opportunities to meet new people.

4. Discuss with your teen the importance of choosing supportive, healthy friendships — and what it means to be a good friend. For example, a good friend is someone who is- Loyal, Wants what’s best for you, Likes that you have different interests than he or she has, Roots for you, Celebrates your successes.

5. Share information about your own friends, colleagues and neighbors — describe your relationship with them, their interests, their personality traits, what you like about them, how they make you feel and how you resolve differences with them.

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Use the TalkSooner app for tips on how to talk to your kids about not using alcohol or other drugs.