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Tonight as I stand in the waiting area at my karate studio, I hear the most disturbing news. One of my fellow karate members, who is a Junior in high school, says that most of the Freshman class at her school are vaping.
I was not all that shocked by this news because my stepdaughters have told me the same thing about four months ago. However, it is disturbing and scary to think that this is what the world has come to.
Our kids are getting younger when exposed to drugs that are harmful to them. We, as parents, need to know what the signs are and inform our children what their friends don’t tell them. Below are some signs and symptoms to watch out for:
Some sings that your kids might be using
- Track marks on arms or legs (wearing long sleeves in the summer)
- Smells of alcohol or marijuana on breath or body
- Red, flushed cheeks or face
- Blood shot eyes or dilated pupils
- Unexplained changes in attitude, mood, increased irritability
- Silent, uncommunicative, avoids eye contact
- Acts sneaky and secretive
- Decreased motivation/loss of interest
- Spends a lot of time in their room
- Sudden drop in grades
- Sleeping in class
- Defiant behavior
- Reduced memory and attention span
- Frequently breaks curfew
- Disappearance of money or valuables
- Laughing at nothing
- Chewing gum or mints to cover breathe
- Lack of coordination
- Sudden appetite
- Makes endless excuses
- Frequent sickness
- Always thirsty
Here are a few drugs that your teen may be getting involved with and the damage they can cause:
The e-cigarette and vaping
The e-cigarettes still do have nicotine in them which has been shown to be addictive and can damage adolescent’s long-term brain development. It may lead to severe respiratory illness if inhaled as vapor.
Even if you’re not vaping it yourself you can be exposed to those chemicals by breathing contaminated air. Once your children start vaping, it can lead into smoking traditional cigarettes. Treat vaping like any other harmful drug.
The side effects for alcohol are as follows: hypertension, weakening of the heart muscles, anemia, decrease in thinking ability, loss of memory, severe ulcers, cancer of the esophagus, and scarring of the liver.
Paranoia, impaired short term memory, impaired motor coordination, altered judgment, poor educational outcome, less life satisfaction and achievements, chronic bronchitis, cognitive impairment with lower IQ, altered brain development, and schizophrenia.
These are just a few of the most common drugs that teens start to use that can lead into other harder drugs like methamphetamines or cocaine, just to name a couple.
We need to let our children know that they are not alone and we can help them with the peer pressures that they are facing as teenagers.
Here are some ways to help your child stay healthy and help your child to not take a wrong turn in life.
Avoid lecturing your teenagers and use your power minimally. If you are constantly yelling or lecturing your children to do what you want them to do they will rebel against you.
They will start to rely on external sources for moral judgement and make them more susceptible to peer pressure.
Instead, model values, use positive language and guidance. Model your values, showing them that everyone has pressures that they experience.
Model that you can overcome those pressures by believing in yourself and without the leaning on drugs or alcohol. Show them what to do not what they should do.
Provide positive discipline.
Kids will be kids; they need to learn from their mistakes. Yes, they will make mistakes.
If you don’t let them make mistakes, they will not know how to handle that situation down the road. And you may not be there for them in the future to help out.
Brainstorm together on what the good and bad choices are. When they come into a certain situation, they will have an idea on how to react.
Let them know that now is the time in their lives that they will make these hard choices so when they are older, their decisions in life will be much easier.
They will grow into the person that they want to become.
The choices that they choose now, will follow them for the rest of their lives.
Ask them to think ahead 5 or 10 years, ‘will they be able to live with themselves for making that decision’? Is it the path that they want to go down and possibly stay on?
Get them involved with activities such as sports or music. This keeps them preoccupied with something positive so that they don’t have time to veer off down a dark path.
Stay involved with their lives.
Ask them questions about their day or who’s dating who now in their group of friends. Staying connected with them shows that you care about their social life.
They are teenagers, everything in their world revolves around them. Staying close helps show them that you care what happens in their life.
Spend more time with them AND their friends. Get to know their friends.
Take your children out for ice cream or do a fun activity with them a couple of times a month. Staying connected with them will lessen the chance of them trying to find that closeness with others that don’t care about their life.
Give them an out
Giving them an out will help them when they are in a sticky situation. So be that out for them.
‘My mom or dad isn’t that cool, if they found out, AND THEY WILL because they always now everything. I would be so grounded and I don’t want to be grounded’.
Be the perfect role model
This may be difficult if you use drugs and drink alcohol yourself. Try not to do it in front of your children.
If you are a smoker, try involving your teen in your quitting process. Such as letting them know why you started and how you plan on quitting. Let them know that you want to be healthy to live a long life to see your grandchildren grow up.
I know quitting a habit is hard but when you have a reason to do it, it can help.
Do the talk
Sit down and have a talk with them. Let them know what the side effects are. Children are more apt to listen if you tell them the short term side effects versus the long term.
They think that they are either doing it now in high school and probably won’t continue or, for them, it’s too long of a time frame to think about.
Talk about the now.
A big one that really got to my oldest stepdaughter is that she lost friends because of it. They became so corrupted with smoking weed that they are not the same people that they used to be.
Talk to your children about the short term effects and point out real life example if you have any. If not, ask friends and family members or do a google search for some examples.
Educate your children on what they don’t know and what their friends aren’t telling them because they don’t know.
Be there for them and give them the help that they need. Most of the time they just want someone that will listen to them without judging them.