“No drinking. No drugs. And if you get into trouble, call me. I’ll pick you up, and we can talk about it later,” my mother would say every time I left the house. However, quick words and warnings are not enough to govern a teen’s behavior today on Halloween or any other day. Teens today have to make a myriad of decisions throughout the course of their day and unfortunately suffer far greater and more lasting consequences for their mistakes than in the past.
Establishing ground rules for your teen on Halloween is very simple. Discuss all ground rules with your teen as well as your reasoning for instituting them ahead of time. Then establish a set punishment for each ground rule. Then enforce punishment evenly and swiftly.
Avoid conflict by being consistent with punishment. Both parents should agree with the established ground rules, enforcement, and punishment. If both parents don’t enforce rules and punishments, the ground rules may appear arbitrary and whimsical to the teen. They will look for ways to break the ground rules and appease and manipulate each parent separately.
In a worse case scenario the teen may even become a wedge between the two parents and deteriorate their relationship. Be a team. Resolve situations and disagreements openly as long they don’t escalate. Show your teen that relationships can resolve conflict and differences publicly and remain strong. Only if the situation is beyond resolution should the conversation be conducted in private.
Tips for Establishing Ground Rules for Your Teen
1. Establishing Ground Rules for Your Teen: Explain rules logically. For example, I don’t let teens use the car on nights of excitability and possible mischief. Devil’s Night and Halloween are nights of high energy. With children running around trick-or-treating, it’s best to keep inexperienced drivers off the road. They could easily injure themselves or others. If your teenager is filled with energy, don’t complicate the problem by giving them a machine that greatly increases their mass and velocity. I explain the ground rule to them by explaining kinetic energy.
2. Establishing Ground Rules for Your Teen: Be honest, even if it’s hard. Give your kids the straight dope about drugs, not just rhetoric. Far more teens today abuse prescription drugs than illegal narcotics. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), “by 2007, more teenagers used opioid analgesics recreationally than used marijuana.” This year, a study revealed that Adderall had become the most popular drug among the young. The report estimated that between 20 and 30 percent of all college students abuse Adderall recreationally. While opioids and amphetamines can benefit the lives of certain patients, they are powerful drugs that need close medical supervision. Just because something is legal does not mean that it is safe. Just because someone uses a drug medically, doesn’t make it any less dangerous than an illegal narcotic.
3. Establishing Ground Rules for Your Teen: Be an advocate. I champion the rule ‘no tobacco use period’ through constant reiteration and example. And I encourage friends and family to not use tobacco products anywhere near my house or children. Teenagers are susceptible to passion. They know my conviction on certain issues. According to the CDC “cigarette smoking remains the Nation’s leading cause of premature, preventable death.” Tobacco claims 443,000 American lives each year-responsible for 1 in 5 deaths.
4.Establishing Ground Rules for Your Teen: Stay in contact. Set up Google Latitude for your family. It allows you to track your child’s cell phone and allows them to check in regularly by updating their status and location. If everyone in the family uses it, it can be a great way to keep in touch throughout the day. On nights like Halloween where they are tempted to get crazy and break a ground rule, they’ll know you could be watching. Even if you are not.
5. Establishing Ground Rules for Your Teen: Be judicious. Establish ground rules ahead of time. Don’t spring punishment on your teenager before establishing a ground rule. Make sure that punishments and consequences are laid out well in advance. Just as the law is with society. If they disagree with a ground rule, they can argue their point ahead of time.
Kevin B. O’Reilly, Prescription drug overdose cases skyrocket at emergency departments, American Medical Association
Health, United States, 2009, CDC
Brett Ader, Report: Prescription drugs kill far more in Florida than illegal drugs, Oxycodone deaths at record high, The Florida Independent
Dr. Ronald Ricker and Dr. Venus Nicolino, Adderall: The Most Abused Prescription Drug in America, Huffington Post