Substance Use Prevention Tips: A Guide for Lancaster, PA Parents, Caregivers

Our mission at Compass Mark is to help families in Lancaster, PA find the tools they need to reduce the risk of substance use in kids. Many of our youth programs are based on a concept known as Social and Emotional Learning (SEL). The term sounds fairly academic, but the idea is actually simple: help kids learn the knowledge and life skills they need to manage their emotions and make healthy decisions. As a parent or caregiver, you can put the SEL concept to work in your home to reduce the risk a child you love will use alcohol or other drugs. Here’s how:

  1. Allow kids to make mistakes. Figuring out how to handle situations, even tricky ones, helps children build important decision-making skills, according to Matt Levinson, head of University Prep in Seattle and author of “From Fear to Facebook: One School’s Journey.” He adds that some kids may need to make poor decisions several times before they come to a healthy conclusion. Parents can nurture this process by avoiding “rescues” every time a child makes a mistake.
  2. Teach your child how to practice self-care. Busy schedules make self-care hard to implement for adults and kids alike. As a parent or caregiver, you can help children learn how to care for their emotional well-being by acting as a good example: take time to eat, sleep, and exercise as well as wind down from stressful situations. Encourage your child to find a go-to activity that relaxes them, whether it’s practicing simple breathing exercises or reading a book.
  3. Encourage gratitude. There’s more to giving thanks than making a cute centerpiece for the Thanksgiving table with your preschooler. As with so many other things in a parent’s or caregiver’s world, being a good example is a great first step toward helping kiddos learn life skills. Let them see and hear you express thanks to the people in your life. Then encourage the kids to do the same. For example, ask them to share gratitude for one thing before eating a family meal or encourage them to write thank you notes for gifts.
  4. Foster the ability to focus on tasks. The ability to concentrate on a task is a key life skill; however, the use of digital devices may be reducing kids’ ability to focus. Help the youth in your life develop focus by starting a no-screen-time habit in the home. Set aside a certain time period each day or one full day each week in which everyone in the home puts down smartphones and tablets. Encourage children to engage in imaginative play, read a book, play board games, or any other activity that doesn’t involve a glowing screen.

Discover more by visiting our Lending Library, which includes resources to help parents and caregivers guide their children. To learn more about our SEL-based youth programs to build resiliency, encourage communication, and foster healthy decision-making in Lancaster County youth, call 717-299-2831. Image courtesy of Vlado/