Helping parents prevent problem behaviour

Kevin P Haggerty and Rick Kosterman describe Guiding Good Choices, a promising evidence-based approach for preventing problem behaviour in children and teenagers  

PARENTS ARE CRUCIAL PLAYERS IN preventing substance abuse in teenagers. Parents who are involved in their children’s lives and have positive communication (eg, listening and understanding), effective supervision (eg, monitoring activities and friends), and clear expectations for behaviour (eg, defining expectations and consequences for misbehaviour), empower their children to better cope with early opportunities to use drugs and alcohol. There is strong evidence that delaying substance use, especially alcohol and cigarettes, is important. We know that a key predictor of later abuse and dependence is age at first use. Consequently, prevention strategies that reduce the early onset of use hold much promise for diminishing later problems.

What we know
Guiding Good Choices® is:
● Based on empirical research of risk and protective factors;
● Designed to promote strong family bonds while addressing known family risk factors;
● Inclusive of children and teenagers, actively involving them in weekly family meetings;
● Shown to reduce alcohol, cigarette, and marijuana use;
● Associated with reduced behavioural problems; and
● Associated with reducing depressive symptoms in the long term.

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June 2012