The ability to stay on top of our teens is a difficult task, to say the least. If parents aren’t addressing respect and discipline at home, and if schools aren’t reinforcing what the parents have done, what’s left?

Teens tend to mimic what’s around them. It isn’t easy being a teen so many choices, so many rules, sooo many temptations. At the risk of rising up and taking a stand, comes the risk of losing position in the hierarchy of status among peers. What teens don’t realize is that the one who takes a stand against the pressure is often viewed as a leader.

Etiquette and Life Skills should be reviewed regularly at home. When your teen agrees to share a portion of his/her day with you, they are flattering you as the parent. Sharing should not make them regret doing so.

A great way to drive home life lessons is by discussing the news. Reference something that a teen did recently (such as holding onto the back of moving car while riding a bike or having a baby very early in life) and point out the repercussions from that behavior. The news gives us an opportunity to present real life situations without too much argument. Because it was on the news, it really happened, right?

Talk to your teens about split second decisions to do drugs and how quickly the police can suddenly appear. Have them take care of a pretend baby (a doll) over the week-end set the timer for intervals of two hours all throughout the day and night for diaper changes and feedings. Explain that one moment of stupidity can affect the rest of their life. Show them pictures of car crashes from a drunk driver and detail what happened. It must be done gingerly ‘ almost in a nonchalant, matter- of- fact manner in order to garner more interest. No screaming, preaching, or criticizing. Presentation is important.

Role play with your teens. Just like you would rehearse for stranger danger situations, practice with your teen as to what words to use when faced with tough choices regarding parties or situations that may have drugs and alcohol present, or better yet, practice how to politely decline those invitations. The more practice, the more comfortable a teen becomes with releasing those words and with feeling empowered with the decision.

Like it or not, we the parents, are the ones who must constantly monitor our teens by knowing their friends, their friends parents and being aware of activities on and off school property. By allowing your teen to open up to you, much of this information can be gleaned.