Candyland and drug-free teens, Part 1 (of 3)

Candyland requires parents to have patience and spend time with children having fun, competing, entering their little world. Candyland taught me patience. Candyland taught me how to slow down and take time with my children.

Playing Candyland with your toddler lays the foundation of a good relationship.

My biggest fear was that my four teens would get hooked on drugs or alcohol. None did. They’re all 20-something, college grads & living independently.

Was I just lucky? I doubt it because drugs/booze are always available. My workshops on what I most needed to learn helped. The main objective: how to cultivate a positive family environment without reward & punishment. This connects to drug-free teen years. By the way, children are offered drugs/alcohol during their 11th year.

Rule 1: Parents are the anti-drug.

Young people abuse drugs because they: are bored; have too much money and not enough time with parents; want to rebel against parents; make bad decisions; have bad friends; have no hope and low self-esteem; have too much freedom and too little supervision; receive unconscious messages from parents  that they expect teens to use drugs/alcohol; and more.

Most of these reasons trace back to parents being either over-controlling (which can cause rebellion) or under-involved, when parents do not: build a strong relationship with children by spending time with them (see rule 3); keep track of their children and who they’re friends are; and/or provide productive ways to spend time.

Rule 2: Use the first 11 years to develop a positive, open, warm, trusting relationship with your child. This is called spending lots of time together — eating dinner together most nights, doing chores together, playing Candy Land, going to the park, reading aloud to them every night, cooking, building a bird house together, shooting hoops, telling stories, laughing, or in short, showing an interest in your child, daily.

Rule 3: Practice mutual respect. Use family meetings to negotiate reasonable boundaries and agreements. THEN allow children to make decisions and experience the natural and logical consequences of their choices.

When children practice making decisions, for example, of whether to clean up their room, get a haircut, remember lunch money, or do their homework and feel the results of NOT doing those things, they learn about cause and effect. Then they learn to make better decisions, without being nagged or punished and avoid entitlement.

The main causes of entitlement are that parents:

a. Do everything for children and ask nothing from the child. Children grow up like they live in a free restaurant and hotel with a driver on call;

b. Do not let children fail. This denies children the opportunity to learn to make good decisions so when they become teens and they’re 60 miles away, going 60 miles an hour, they will make REALLY GOOD decisions. That’s what it’s all about.

Part two is on teens and research on family dinner and preventing drug abuse. Part three is on the college years.

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