Help your teenager to stay safe
Most young people would trust their parents out of range of authority figures – including the police and teachers. Your opinions do matter to them, even if it doesn’t seem like it sometimes. Here are some things you can do to help your child stay safe:
- Don’t leave them to pick up information from their friends or TV. It’s likely that your child trusts you – even if they don’t show it. You’re the right person to talk to them. Give them accurate information, and make sure they know your views, so they know where they stand with you.
- Find out the facts before you start the conversation.
- Think about how you will react if they say they that they are taking drugs / are confused about their sexuality / are struggling with their mental health.
- Don’t make assumptions about what they do or don't know.
- Pick a good time to talk – not before they rush off to school or as soon as they get home. Sometimes situations where you don’t have to have direct eye contact e.g. when you are in the car can be a good time to start a conversation.
- Try and spend some 1:1 time doing something they enjoy and use this as an opportunity to have a chat about what’s going on for them with friends/at school
- Try and make sure that you know who your child is with when they go out – make an effort to meet and get to know their friends and have contact numbers for their parents
- Don’t make them feel as if you are interrogating them. Sometimes a good way of starting the conversation is by saying something like ‘I can see that you are upset, what can I do to help?’, ‘I feel as if there is something worrying you and I’d like to be able to help you work through what’s going on’
- Stories in the media about issues affecting young people e.g. drugs / social media / mental health can be useful springboards for a conversation. Using these opportunities may mean that your child doesn’t feel like they’re being accused of anything.
- Listen with respect to what they have to say.
- Don’t lose your temper if you disagree with your child’s opinions. It might make them rebel more. Stay calm and don’t panic.
- Let them know that you’re there for them and that you love them.
- Set boundaries. Make it clear what your house rules are so they know what you will and won’t accept.
- Call on your friends. If you or your child are too embarrassed to talk, you could ask someone close to speak to them.
- If your child is really reluctant to speak to you but you know something is wrong then leave contact details for support services in their bedroom.