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At this age, the focus is on creating a healthy beginning and fostering positive social, emotional, and moral development that will extend through your child’s lifespan. According to the National Institute for Drug Abuse, effective prevention focuses on intervening early in a child’s development before problems develop.

Adults are very important both as teachers and role models. Children are generally trusting and they believe that the decisions adults make for them are the right ones. Helping your child know who to trust is important. They need to understand that just because someone tells them to do something, doesn't mean it is always "right". It is during these young years where parents are talking to their young children, that important impressions can be made regarding alcohol and other dangerous drugs.

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Know who is influencing your child

Get to know your child's friends - and their friends' parents.

An advantage to getting to know the parents of your child's friends is that you will know the kind of people that are influencing your child. Also, by getting to know the parents, you can verify your child's statements when he or she says, "All my friends get to do it." Most importantly, connecting with the families of your child's friend will help form a safety net for your child because you can help supervise each other's children and look out for their safety. It is common in small towns for everyone to know everyone even through generations! Here are several ways you meet other families: set play-dates, arrange to share driving with other parents for after-school activities, volunteer at your child's school, join PTA, attend faith-based activities, attend sporting events or other social gatherings, etc.

Keep them active

Help your child find a peer group and after-school activities.

Children as young as eleven or twelve years old can be strongly influenced by the behavior of their peers. Take steps to direct your child toward the right kinds of peer groups from the start so your child will form friendships with other children in those groups. Your child will have a sense of belonging and will avoid groups that use alcohol or drugs. You can further encourage your child’s social life by helping them become involved in activities with other children who share the same interest. Structured after-school programs such as sports, scouts, 4H, music, dance, or faith-based activities will provide your child an opportunity to meet other children with similar interest and gain self-confidence by developing skills and talents. It will also give your child something constructive to do after school because the hours after school are often times when children first experiment with drugs, especially if they are unsupervised.

Know who to trust

Create a "helpers" file of trusted adults your child can rely on.

It is important your child know which adults, both at school and outside, they can rely on for answers to questions or help in emergencies. Create a phone list for your child of relatives, family friends, neighbors, teachers, religious leaders, and the police and fire departments. Talk with your child about the kind of help each person on the list could provide in case an unexpected situation arises and they need help (e.g., being approached by a "stranger").

Keep them active

Help your child find a peer group and after-school activities.

Children as young as eleven or twelve years old can be strongly influenced by the behavior of their peers. Take steps to direct your child toward the right kinds of peer groups from the start so your child will form friendships with other children in those groups. Your child will have a sense of belonging and will avoid groups that use alcohol or drugs. You can further encourage your child’s social life by helping them become involved in activities with other children who share the same interest. Structured after-school programs such as sports, scouts, 4H, music, dance, or faith-based activities will provide your child an opportunity to meet other children with similar interest and gain self-confidence by developing skills and talents. It will also give your child something constructive to do after school because the hours after school are often times when children first experiment with drugs, especially if they are unsupervised.