Saturday, December 27, 2008

Kids Smoking and Drinking?

According to a recent report from AScribe Newswire Center for the Advancement of Health, "Teen smoking and drinking do not occur in a vacuum -- both parents and peers may promote or discourage substance abuse among teens, according to a study of more than 4,500 students in the sixth, seventh and eighth grades".

"This is one of the first studies to report that both peer and parent influences are independently associated with smoking and drinking," said lead author Bruce Simons-Morton, Ed.D., M.P.H., of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development at National Institutes of Health, in Bethesda, Maryland.

The teen study participants took a substance abuse survey that included questions on how many of their friends smoke and drink and how often friends had encouraged them to smoke or drink over the past year. The teens were also asked how aware their parents were of their daily activities, about their parents' expectations concerning smoking and drinking and about their parents' level of regard for them.

Girls and boys who associated with friends who smoke and drank were more likely to do so themselves, the researchers found. "Our findings underscore the powerful influence affiliation with substance-using peers can have on smoking and drinking," said Simons-Morton.

In general, girls were more likely to drink than boys and were more susceptible to peer pressure from friends encouraging them to drink, according to the study. "This is consistent with other research suggesting that girls may be more susceptible than boys to peer influences to smoke or drink," noted Simons-Morton.

Parents also appeared to influence teen smoking and drinking, the researchers found. "Teens who perceived that their parents like them, respect them, take them seriously, listen to them and give reasons for rules and decisions that involve them were less likely to smoke and drink," said Simons-Morton.

"Teens with parents who do not establish clear behavioral expectations, do not keep themselves informed about their teen's life and do not demonstrate their regard for their teen are more likely to experiment with substance use," the researcher added.

Do you like and respect your kids? Of course you do! But, do your kids believe that you like and respect them? Do you take your kids seriously? Of course you do! But, it has been my experience that only when parents take the time to explain their thoughts to their kids (as opposed to just ordering them around and sternly lecturing them) do the kids actually feel as though they are liked, loved, and respected by their parents.

Also, do you have clear behavioral expectations for your kids? Do they know what they are? After working with thousands of middle school kids over the years, it has become clear that kids seek and desire clear rules and expectations from their parents.

Yes, they will rebel and try to circumvent the rules, but only as an attempt to test your love for them! Be consistent, be clear, and always check on your kids, to help to ensure that they are staying away from all forms of drugs.

Hang in there! Your kids need you!!

Paul W. Reeves

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