One of my favorite expressions is that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. There are several things that we as parents can do to safeguard our children from addiction. In my next few posts I intend to share some of the ideas that I use in my work with children and adolescents as well as their parents.
I. One simple tool is to help foster positive self-esteem. The way that children gain positive self-esteem is by gaining self-mastery. They can do this by seeing improvement in what they are doing. Children know their own interests, and they are more likely to master something that they start out liking.
As parents we can set them up for success by fostering opportunities to grow. If they love music, we can sign them up for voice or instrument lessons. (We can barter for lessons with a skill that we have, if the money is too much). If they like trucks, we can go to the library and find all the books available, go to truck shows, or find a mechanic who would do a personalized field trip. If they like to draw, we can provide art materials and help them find youtube tutorials. For animal lovers, we can take them to Petco, to college experimental farms or make friends with people who have animals. I don't mean to suggest that we have them do everything and burn ourselves out in the process. What I do mean is that we can observe what they love and help them grow personally by following their interests.
We all feel better when we are doing what we enjoy and feel that we are making progress. We can model this same behavior by pursuing our own interests. In my own life I have gained a lot of joy and satisfactory when I have mastered some new skill. I learned to play the piano and then organ when I was 31. I learned how to jog when I was 40. I taught myself to knit a few years ago, and I love trying out new patterns and different types of yarn. The options are limitless. The point is that mastering something that is difficult at first brings us a great deal of happiness.
Stay tuned for the next few "ounces of prevention"!