Parents play a major role in preventing substance misuse, delinquency, teen pregnancy, violence, depression and anxiety. Many risk factors for problem behaviors occur within the family such as family management problems, conflict and favorable parental attitudes toward problem behaviors. These increase the likelihood of teens to engage in problem behaviors. On the other hand, strong family attachment or bonding prevents problem behaviors.
Dr. Dave Schramm talks about a parenting strategy called “Make Time for 9.” This strategy can help parents have positive communication with their children, build family attachment and prevent problem behaviors. Make time for 9 has 3 tips to help parents:
- Children need 9 meaningful (safe) touches every day. Things like a pat on the back, a fist bump, a hug, or even playful wrestling are good examples of meaningful touches. These touches help children feel connected to parents.
- 9 minutes that matter: The first 3 minutes after a child wakes up, the first 3 minutes after coming home from school, and the last 3 minutes before bed. These are 9 minutes during the day that we can try and slow down, look our children in the eyes, and talk with them.
- 9 minutes of conversation: We understand the importance talking with a baby has on language development, but children of every age need at least 9 minutes of conversation with parents. These 9 minutes strengthen attachment and can happen all at once or a minute here and there throughout the day.
Making time for 9 will help parents and children be better connected and attached. When parents have a strong attachment with their children they can set clear rules around problem behaviors, like no underage drinking, and children that are bonded to their parents are more likely to follow the rules. Start talking with your children early, for substance misuse by 6th grade, to prevent problems. Children are going to hear things about drugs, alcohol, sex, suicide, and may experience depression or anxiety. Have ongoing conversations with your children and help them feel comfortable talking with you about those things. Making time for 9 now will have many long-term benefits for our families.
By David Watkins
David Watkins is the Prevention Coordinator for the Bear River Health Department and the vice chair of the Utah Prevention Network. David stumbled into the prevention field when rejected from his major program of choice while attending BYU. His rejection letter suggested Health Promotion as a possible alternative. He took the prerequisite courses and loved learning about the role environments play in health. He would graduate with a degree in Public Health with an emphasis in Health Promotions, and begin work as a health educator at the Bear River Health Department. David is the father of 3 boys and enjoys spending time with them.