Pennsylvania Opioid Prevention Project

PAOPP-Play a roll in preventionEveryone feels stress at one time or another and can easily be overwhelmed. By providing guidance and modeling healthy behaviors, you can help your teen manage stress. Please see our TEEN section to learn healthy coping habits you should encourage.


Communicate With Your Teen

Casual conversations are a powerful way to connect with your child around the realities of opioid misuse. But, when tackling some of life’s tougher topics, especially those about alcohol and drug use, figuring out what to say can be a challenge. It may be helpful to read about how to have the right conversations about alcohol and drug use, including opioids. Here are some tips to get you started:


  • It is never too early to start talking about substance use, including opioid use.
  • Keep conversations open and honest.
  • Do not judge and don’t lecture.
  • Listen more, ask your teen what he/she already knows about opioids.
  • Balance positive and negative reinforcement.
  • Come from a place of love, even when you’re having tough conversations. Clear up any misconceptions, share accurate information.
  • Teachable moments come up all of the time — be mindful of natural places for the conversation to go in order to broach the topic of alcohol and substance use.


>> Learn more about how to best talk to your child about drugs.
If you are interested in learning more about alcohol and other substances, attend one of the “Be Part Of The Conversation” events near you.


Encouragement Helps Create Confident Teens

Consistent encouragement can help youth feel good about themselves and give them confidence to try new activities, develop new friendships and tackle difficult tasks. Encouragement also helps parents promote cooperation and reduce conflict.

Ways to encourage your children include:


  • Helping them break down a problem into smaller, more manageable parts
  • Reminding them of their strengths and past successes
  • Asking them to share their opinions, ideas, and feelings
  • Remembering what they have told you
  • Making time for them each day


Negotiate problems and help teens find solutions

Negotiating solutions is a way for parents and teens to work together to solve problems, make changes, and improve cooperation. To negotiate problems, parents should:


  • Choose a problem that is small and specific
  • State the problem neutrally
  • Brainstorm solutions with your teen
  • Evaluate ideas and choose a solution cooperatively
  • Check in after you have tried the solution several times. If it’s not working, go back to your list of ideas.


Set limits

Setting limits for your teen helps teach self-control, responsibility, caring behaviors, and provides safe boundaries. Set rules that are clear, simple and specific and enforce them so that your child can understand the rules as well as the consequences for breaking them.


Stay involved

Be aware of your teen’s activities – including their online presence. Try to respect their growing independence, but still set boundaries. Share quality in-person time and find out who their friends are, where they are going and what they’re doing.


Provide teens with decision-making opportunities

Household chores work great with younger kids, but teens require a higher level of family involvement and responsibility including chances to help with family decision-making. Involving them in planning an upcoming family vacation, or asking them to help you research any upcoming purchasing decisions for the family can help to develop ownership and responsibility.


Teach them new skills

If you’re giving your teen new opportunities and responsibilities, give them the skills to succeed. If he or she is making a decision about a new purchase or family event, explain the criteria needed to make an informed opinion. Is he or she pushing for the chance to make more purchases on their own? Teach them how to budget for what they need.


Recognize their efforts

After your child completes a task, or at least shows that they really tried, make sure you recognize the effort in a way that fits their needs. For example, don’t try to push hugs on a teen that resists physical affection. Try a high five or verbal recognition instead. Recognition is the motivation for kids to continue making positive efforts.


Teach your teen to use technology and social media responsibly

Most teens use some form of social media and have a profile on a social networking site. It's important to talk with your kids about how to use social media wisely.


If your teen is on social media:

  • Help explain the terms of service.
  • Start a discussion early on around social media versus real life.
  • Inform your teen that there will be immediate consequences for social media misteps.
  • Remind them that nothing online is private – ever.
  • Talk about the pros and cons of social media.
  • Urge them to question their content before they post.
  • Follow them on all social networks.
  • Encourage them to post content that showcases their aptitude.
  • Log the time they spend online.
  • Become a resource when they have questions or feel uncomfortable about content.


As a parent, it’s okay to say something when you see something “strange” that someone posts. Appropriate social skills are necessary to function well in society.


>> Learn how to help your child navigate the up and the downsides of social media.