Know! Your Summer Plan of Action
The school year is action-packed and quite frankly exhausting for many students and parents alike. So by the time June hits, most of us look forward to slowing things down and enjoying a laid-back, commitment-free summer.
While this sounds like a good plan, it is actually in our children’s best interest to keep up the pace a bit this summer. Researchers have found that June and July are the riskiest months of the year for first-time alcohol and other drug use among youth.
CHECK OUT THE STATS:
- Each day during the SCHOOL YEAR, about 8,000 adolescents take their first drink of alcohol. Compare that to the average SUMMER day, where about 11,000 adolescents take their first drink of alcohol.
- Each day during the SCHOOL YEAR, about 3,000 to 4,000 youth smoke cigarettes or marijuana for the first time. Compare that to the average SUMMER day, where about 4,500 youth smoke cigarettes or marijuana for the first time.
- As for students who have already begun drinking and smoking, many are known to indulge more often and more heavily during June and July.
What is it about summer? Too much time on youths’ hands + lack of supervision = Trouble.
Parents, there is no time to waste. Get your SUMMER PLAN OF ACTION underway:
- Make clear your expectations for your children not to drink or use other drugs, regardless of the company they hold or the circumstance they are in. Repeat this message often.
- Supervise tweens and even older teens as much as possible. Set house rules for who is allowed and not allowed to be in your home when you are not. Then check in regularly.
- Know where your children are, who they are with and what their game-plan is at all times. And if any part of the plan changes along the way, make it a rule that they check-in to let you know.
- If you know work or other obligations will be pulling you away daily, consider hiring a college-age “buddy” to check-in and/or hang out with your children for a period of time each week.
- BEWARE of the summer parties and do NOT allow your children to attend one where underage drinking is planned, even under the ‘agreement’ that they will not partake. This is legally risky and the peer pressure may be too much for them to handle. No matter how much you ‘trust’ your son or daughter, it is not wise to put any child in such a position.
- If youth are at a party and alcohol or other drugs come out, they must know to exit as quickly as possible and they must be able to count on calling you day or night for a safe getaway.
- Lead by example. Show your children that a fun, summer party does not have to include alcohol. And if you choose to have a drink at a gathering, drink in moderation and let your children see that you are not driving. For better or worse they are watching and learning.
- Remind them they are never to ride in a car, boat or any other motor vehicle with a driver who is under the influence of any substance. That includes adult drivers as well – if the person responsible for getting your child home has been drinking, your son or daughter must know to kindly refuse the ride and reach you instead (regardless of how uncomfortable it may feel).
- Get to know your children’s friends and their parents. You may be surprised to learn that some families are not on the same page as you when it comes to preventing underage drinking and smoking. And in that case, certain boundaries will need to be set to protect your children.
- Help them create some structure to their days, whether it is getting a fun part-time summer job, volunteering, taking part in an educational class or workshop or enrolling in a camp (there are so many to choose - sports, band, art, music, adventure camps, etc.). Help them discover what interests them!
Sure, a little rest and relaxation is well-deserved and much needed, but too much downtime (especially when unsupervised) can be hazardous to our children’s health. Don’t delay; get your summer plan of action underway today!
Sources: HealthDay: Summer is peak time for teens to try drugs, alcohol:Report. July 2012. Narconon: Keeping your teen drug and alcohol free this summer. Stop Teen Drugs: Why a busy summer might be the best thing for your teen. May 2013.