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The Informed Parent

Preventing Tobacco, Alcohol And Drug Use…The 6G’s Guide For Parents

by Lori A. Livingston, M.D., F.A.A.P.
Published on Apr. 21, 2014

Teenagers are exposed to many outside influences. Good or bad, your teen pays attention…to friends, teachers, television, music, magazines, etc. Most importantly, your teen pays attention to you, the parent, even though it seems they often don’t want to listen to anyone.

A parent’s guidance and attention are the most valuable tools in preventing teenage drug use. But where do you start?

The 6 G’s are a creative way to remember how you can prevent tobacco, alcohol and drug use by your child and communicate about these serious topics. Here’s a  brief guide to starting the discussion.

1. Genetic

  • Does your child have any GENETIC predisposition to alcohol or other drug use?
  • Is there any inappropriate role modeling to which your child is exposed?
  • Do you use alcohol responsibly in your home?

2. Group

  • Do any members of the GROUP he or she hangs out with drink alcohol?
  • Know who your child’s friends are and ask if any of them drink.
  • Know where your child hangs out, and if there is adult supervision.
  • Ask what your child does when he or she is with friends, and how they have a good time.

3. Give

  • Has your child ever been in a situation where someone offered to GIVE him/her alcohol or encouraged them to drink?
  • Let your child know that even though alcohol may be available (at home, a party, etc.) you expect him/her NOT to drink.
  • Encourage your child to avoid being with kids who drink, smoke or use drugs.

4. Get

  • Has your child ever been tempted to GET and try alcohol, or does he/she disapprove of drinking by young people?
  • Find out if your child has thought about trying alcohol or has even had a single sip.
  • Periodically ask about other risky behaviors and let him/her know you expect them to make good choices and not to take chances with alcohol or drugs.
  • Help your child think of ways to be able to say “no” without feeling self-conscious.

5. Great

  • Does your child understand the GREAT dangers of underage drinking?
  • Remind your child of those dangers (accidents, school failure, rape, unwanted pregnancy, long term health/legal/economic problems).
  • Understand and talk with your child about how alcohol affects the young developing brain.
  • Use the media for examples of alcohol’s dangers…car crashes, drug busts, death.
  • Help dispel the media myths that drinking is glamorous, that drinkers are more likeable, attractive, sexy, and fun than non-drinkers.

6. Guidance

  • Do you provide your child with GUIDANCE about drinking?
  • Reinforce that underage drinking is dangerous and illegal.
  • Regularly remind your child about your hopes and expectations regarding drinking.
  • Remind your child that most kids don’t drink and that the behavior is unacceptable and will result in consequences.

Adapted from Contemporary Pediatrics Guide for Practitioners

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