Our kids are much more likely to avoid dangerous situations when they have caring adults in their lives. Get involved in your child’s life by participating in his activities – volunteer in his classroom, bring a snack for the soccer team, attend her recital or play or help with his science project. Your participation and encouragement tell your child that these activities are worthwhile and will encourage him to pursue more positive activities as he gets older.
How to Get More Involved
Being involved in your child’s life has many rewards—memories, great conversations, a deeper relationship with your child and the chance to watch your child grow into a healthy, responsible adult. Getting involved in your child’s life may seem challenging and time consuming, but the more involved you are, the more valued they’ll feel, and the more likely they’ll be to respond to you.
One of the biggest challenges facing parents when it comes to being more involved with their child is figuring out how. As kids get older they want more independence to make their own decisions and act like spending time with their parents isn’t “cool” anymore. However, studies consistently demonstrate that kids really do like to spend quality time with their parents.
So what is quality time?
As long as your are communicating with your child in an upbeat and useful way, you are spending quality time with your kids. Just being in the same room as your children doesn’t count. Here are some helpful ways to increase the amount of quality time you share with your child:
Establish together time.
Establish a regular weekly routine of doing something special with your child. Going out for a walk, getting some ice cream, or even having a conversation while you’re cleaning up after dinner can help you open your lines of communication. This is essential to raising drug-free children.
Have regular family meetings.
Family meetings held at a set time provide a useful forum for sharing triumphs, complaints, projects and any other topics with each other. Establish some ground rules, such as everyone gets a chance to talk without interruption, and only constructive feedback is allowed. To get resistant children to join in, try using incentives like post-meeting pizza, or assign them important roles like “recording secretary” or “rule enforcer.”
Try to be home after school.
The danger zone for drug use is between 3 and 6 p.m. If you cannot be there, try to arrange for another adult that has a positive relationship with your child (such as a grandparent or neighbor) to stop in and check on them.
Eat meals together as often as you can.
Family meal time provides a great opportunity to talk about the day’s events, to unwind, reinforce and bond with your kids. Studies show that kids who have meals with their families at least 5 times per week are much less likely to be involved with drugs or alcohol.
Don’t be afraid to ask where your kids are going, who they’ll be with, and what activities they have planned.
Get to know your child’s friends and their parents so you’re familiar with their activities. After your child returns from the activity, make sure to ask you child if they had fun and if they are building stronger bonds with their friends.
Good questions to ask your child:
Before the Activity:
- “Where are you going today/tonight?”
- “Who will be there?”
- “What are you going to do when you get there?”
- “When will you be home?”
- “What phone number can I reach you at?”
After the Activity:
- “Did you have fun at the (movies, mall, etc.)?”
- “How are your friends doing?” (try to use actual names)
- “What was your favorite part about the (movies, mall, etc.)?”