Know!'s Spring Break Staycation Guide

If the words “spring break” conjures up visions of reckless, risk-taking teens at some vacation hotspot, engaging in binge drinking, getting high and making other poor choices – you’re not alone.

This scenario is certainly not the case for all traveling spring breakers, but it is an unfortunate reality for some. But parents beware, just because your child is home for the break doesn’t necessarily mean he/she is out of harm’s way. Similar types of risk-taking behaviors involving alcohol and other drugs peak during this time in hometowns across the nation, with or without sun and surf. And it’s not just an issue among the high school and college crowd like we typically think of; middle school youth are taking part as well.

Spring break equals increased independence for many adolescents; sometimes by default, due to parents’ work schedules and such. For some youth, this will be their first experience being home alone without an adult or being home for a longer-than-usual period of time. Regardless, this newfound freedom brings additional opportunities for decision-making (whether good or bad). What will your child choose?

Here are some tips to help guide children in making good choices for a healthy, safe and drug-free Spring Break Staycation:

  • Talk to your children, reminding them of the dangers of alcohol and other drugs, and making clear your expectations that they will not take part in underage drinking, smoking or any other drug use. Children whose parents talk to them often about not using alcohol and other drugs are 50% less likely to use in the first place.
  • Safeguard your home by making alcohol inaccessible and locking up and monitoring prescription and over-the-counter medications. The family’s home medicine cabinet is an easy target for youth to obtain drugs.
  • Supervision is a key to children’s safety. Research shows that youth are three times more likely to use alcohol, marijuana and other drugs when unsupervised. Be present as much as possible, and for times when you can’t, make your presence felt by checking in with quick calls or texts to keep updated or try having a friend or relative stop by.
  • Set house rules, including which friends (if any) are allowed over while you’re gone, as well as which friends’ houses your child may visit. Know where your child is and with whom he/she is with at all times.

While a little spring break rest and relaxation is a necessary part of students recharging their batteries to successfully finish out the school year, it is also important to keep them active and engaged during this time. Research reveals that prolonged boredom increases a youth’s risk for substance abuse. We’re not suggesting constant entertainment for your child, just not allowing “vegging out” in front of the TV or continuous play on their electronics all week long.   

Work with your child to create a plan for fun spring break activities. If you do have work or other obligations that won’t allow you to break free for the whole week, try connecting with other parents to take turns chaperoning day trips around town.

For some great ideas on balancing exciting activities with a little R&R, visit these links:

Spring Break Staycation with Tweens and Teens

How to Keep Kids Active During Spring Break

Drug Free Action Alliance wishes your family an enjoyable and safe spring break!