Setting Realistic Expectations for Your Teen to Diminish Risk of Addiction

Posted by admin on February 28, 2017

As humans, we all have unique personalities.  Some of us are fairly laid back, and some of us are perfectionists.  Some of us fall somewhere in the middle. Whatever your child’s personality-type or predisposition is, at their core, they want your love, attention, and they want you to be proud of them.  This may not always be obvious in the teen years, particularly with teenagers that are rebellious.  But, make no mistake, kids with various types of personalities frequently feel extreme pressure to perform in school, succeed in sports, excel in extracurricular activities, and meet your expectations – even if they do not say it.  As a teenager, that is a heavy load to take on and many teens feel like they are falling short of your expectations.  It is natural as a parent to have high expectations for your child, but could your expectations and pressure be too high?  Unfortunately, what we are seeing is that many teens feel like they are falling short of their parent’s expectations and are turning to substance abuse and prescription pill addiction as a result.

While it can sometimes be easy to spot an addict because they begin to struggle to get through the day, others may be harder to spot because they may be high functioning.  Though addiction can be used as an escape, it can also be used in some cases as a way to better perform – assisting teens in meeting their parent’s high expectations.  This is not to say that parents should have no expectations of their children, but it is important to consider the ways in which expectations are enforced and ultimately it is important to remember to have open dialogue with your child.  Be aware of what is going on in their life.  Ask them how they are feeling about certain situations, expectations or pressures.  When expectations are not meant, a child may feel disappointment, resentment or self-loathing and as a teen those emotions may feel hopeless.  There have been various studies that have shown that simply engaging in easy and effective communication with your teen can help protect against the risk of teen substance abuse and addiction.

Prescription drug, illegal drug, and alcohol abuse among teens is more common than you think. Do Something reports some eye-opening statistics, “By the 8th grade, 28% of adolescents have consumed alcohol, 15% have smoked cigarettes, and 16.5% have used marijuana…6.5% of high school seniors smoke pot daily, up from 5.1% five years ago. Meanwhile, less than 20% of 12th graders think occasional use is harmful, while less than 40% see regular use as harmful (lowest numbers since 1983).”  While having expectations is important, it is equally important to have realistic expectations and a consistent presence in your child’s life. It can feel tricky to navigate the murky waters of teenage years and there is no “magic bullet” “one-size-fits-all” approach but what it ultimately comes down to is open, positive lines of communication between you and your teen.  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services notes that a “strong, positive connection with parents” is one of the best ways to prevent adolescent substance abuse and addiction.  If you are struggling to effectively and positively communicate with your teen, Diebold Behavioral Counseling can help you improve the lines of communication, set realistic expectations, and foster a positive parent/child relationship.

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