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Know! To Pause, Breathe, Think, Act

posted by Tim Pohlman

Talking regularly with youth about the dangers of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs reduces their risk of using in the first place.
Know! encourages you to share this Parent Tip with friends and family.
Know! is a program of Prevention Action Alliance
Link to Prevention Action Alliance's Facebook page
Prevention Action Alliance
6171 Huntley Road, Suite G
Columbus, Ohio 43229
Know! To Pause, Breathe, Think,

In the previous tip, Know! The Effect of Peer Presence, we discussed the fact that the mere presence of peers can lead a young person to take risks he or she wouldn’t normally take on their own, and that the main culprit is the adolescent brain and its underdeveloped self-control center. In addition to parental supervision and extra caution when allowing your tween/teen to gather with friends, experts say we can help our children curb those impulsive tendencies by encouraging greater self-control.


How do we do that? One strategy is to teach our sons and daughters to activate their internal pause button when a situation calls for it, allowing for a more mindful response as opposed to an unthinking reaction.


Here’s an example scenario to share with your child: You are at a teen party (with my permission). The parents are home and there is no alcohol or other substances allowed. Then a few older teens show up with a secret stash of alcohol and offer it to you. These are peers you look up to and really want to connect with, but you know the “right” thing to do would be to turn down the offer. The parents monitoring the party are unaware of the alcohol brought in and you know that if you so choose, you can likely get away with having a drink. What do you do?


Step 1: Recognize the Signs – You may feel torn between knowing and doing what’s “right” and wanting to impress your peers; your heart may begin to race, you may feel a little knot in your stomach or you may feel a sense of excitement at the thought of taking a risk


Step 2: Press Pause – Hit that internal pause button and allow everything to stop momentarily


Step 3: Take a Deep Breath – A quick shot of oxygen to the brain will allow you to become more aware of your present situation; the more awareness you have in the present moment, the more likely you are to make a better decision


Step 4: Think – There is no need to react immediately, just think for a moment and consider the potential outcomes


Step 5: Act – Hit the “play” button; now you can respond or take action more mindfully


While this five-step process may seem like an eternity, it will play out fairly quickly. Teaching your child to give themselves a few extra seconds before reacting however, can make a huge difference.


Keep in mind that as your child grows and develops, his or her level of self-control will also depend a great deal on you. Your temperament, your parenting style, and your display (or lack) of self-control will greatly influence your child. Though you cannot change your basic temperament, you can change certain aspects of your personality – if needed – to improve parenting. Structure promotes self-regulation in children. Adopting more of an authoritative parenting style, meaning high warmth toward your child, yet clear and consistent rules and follow-through on consequences, will also help your child with self-control.


This learning process will continue throughout adolescence, and will naturally improve as children get older. However, you can help them build this skill by providing them with safe opportunities to practice self-control. As your child strengthens this ability, you, in response, can gradually loosen the external controls.



Sources: Nadya Andreeva: 5 Amazing Benefits of Deep Breath – Breath is Life. Huffingtonpost: Healthy Living - Breathing Exercises Could Help Teens Be Less mpulsive. July 2013. ParentMap: How to Encourage Self-Control in Tweens and Teens. Adapted from Wise-Minded Parenting: 7 Essentials of Successful Tweens and Teens by Laura S. Kastner, Ph.D., with Kristen A. Russell, ublished by ParentMapKelly Pietrangeli: Tiny Buddha: Think Before Reacting  How to Use Your Mental Pause Button.

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Know! What Your Kids Are Watching - 13 Reasons Why

posted Jul 16, 2017, 8:48 PM by Tim Pohlman   [ updated Jul 16, 2017, 8:48 PM ]

knowTalk early and often about alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. Even when it gets tough.
Empowering Parents To Raise Their Children To Be Substance-Free
PDFEPSClick here to print a PDF of this article so you can start a conversation with your child
Talking regularly with youth about the dangers of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs reduces their risk of using in the first place.

Know! encourages you to share this Parent Tip with friends and family.

Learn more at:
Know! is a program of:
FLink to the article on the Drug Free Action Alliance Facebook page
Drug Free Action Alliance
6155 Huntley Road, Suite H
Columbus, Ohio 43229
PH: (614) 540-9985
FX: (614) 540-9990



Know! What Your Kids Are


Watching - 13 Reasons Why


If you haven’t already received a parent notice from your local school district regarding the Netflix series “13 Reasons Why,” let this Know! Parent Tip serve as your alert.

Even if you haven’t heard of 13 Reasons Why, don’t assume your pre-teen or teen hasn’t, and do approach this as if he/she may have caught some, several or all 13 episodes. The controversy surrounding this show is the subject matter and how it is being addressed, including depression, bullying, emotional abuse, substance abuse, sexual assault and suicide – and the viewing audience – as this series is the latest buzz in middle and high schools across the nation.

This Netflix-exclusive series begins following the suicide of a high school teenager named Hannah. She has left behind 13 pre-recorded cassette tapes, which is meant to be passed around to the 13 people she blames for her death. Among the many concerns expressed by many mental health experts, they say the show conveys the idea that if your voice is not heard in life, it will most certainly be heard in death. By taking her own life and leaving behind her thoughts, Hannah was able to cause her unlucky 13 to experience extreme guilt, shame and fear – exacting the ultimate revenge on those who hurt her.

Parents nationwide have received notices from local school districts warning that suicide has risen to become the second leading cause of death among U.S. teens, and that watching 13 Reasons Why may increase thoughts of suicide among this most-impressionable age group – specifically for those who may be experiencing issues similar to those portrayed in the show. Schools are also cautioning that suicide is being glamourized in this series and may be viewed as a way out.

In an article published by Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, Behavioral Health Expert John Ackerman, PhD says the show misses the mark when it comes to realistic behavior surrounding suicide. He says it is unrealistic, for a teen especially, to put together an elaborate series of tapes in the midst of an emotional crisis and that empathy and revenge are rarely the culprits of taking one’s life. Ackerman says, “…13RW suggests Hannah’s suicide served its intended purpose. It promotes the idea that something permanent and shocking is the only way to make others understand the depth of one’s pain and what others have done to cause it.” He says that it was a potentially dangerous decision by writers and producers, in the final episode, to depict Hannah’s suicide in such a drawn out and detailed fashion and warns of “suicide contagion;” a phenomenon where there is an increase in suicides after exposure to the suicidal behavior of others.

Suicide is not the only concerning factor of a young viewing audience. There are multiple graphic, physical assaults and sexual assaults that occur among these teens, as well of plenty of alcohol and drug use (on top of bad language). While many teens tragically do experience assault and do engage in substance abuse, your child does not necessarily benefit from seeing it played out in front of them.

13 Reasons Why is not intended for the middle school youth and in most cases, not at all appropriate for this age group. If your high school student is among the viewing audience, your best bet is to watch it yourself and discuss it with your teen. It is however, a great series for parents to watch. The majority of us parents raising teens currently, never had to deal with the pressures and public shaming that takes place on social media (at least not in our adolescence) and therefore may not realize how deeply devastating it can be for a teen. This show also gives adults a glimpse at how poorly some young people treat others and the impact it can have – in case we have forgotten, from our high school days.

This series is definitely getting conversations started and that’s a good thing. But the bottom line is that we, as parents, must know what our kids are watching and keep the conversations going.

Suicide Prevention Resources:

Sources: John Ackerman, PhD. Nationwide Children’s Hospital: 13 Reasons Why: Should Parents Be Concerned About This Netflix Series? National Suicide Know! is a program of: Prevention LifelineNetflix.Com: 13 Reasons Why.

Visit to get the conversation going !!!

Know! The Big Sibling Effect

posted Jun 30, 2017, 5:51 PM by Tim Pohlman   [ updated Jun 30, 2017, 5:51 PM ]

Know! The Big Sibling Effect

My little eyes look up to you; you must be ten feet tall.

My little ears hear what you say; I listen to it all.


I see with your friends; and how you act with mom and dad.

I notice how you do in school; and your choices – good and bad.


My big sibling – you’re the greatest; I want to be just like YOU.

I’ll keep watching and keep learning; so please be careful what you do.


There is a unique and special connection between siblings that cannot be denied nor duplicated. They are both tormentors and protectors; a source of teasing one moment, the greatest ally the next. Siblings are also likely to be one and other’s longest-lasting relationship. Four out of five Americans get to experience the growing years with a brother or sister, and in most families, the older siblings serve as role models for the younger ones. The influence of older siblings is so powerful in fact, that it is said to rival that of peers and many times outweigh parental influence - for the better or worse.

Let’s start with the “worse.” When it comes to risky behaviors, research shows that younger siblings are likely to emulate the behaviors and actions of their older siblings. A girl whose teen sister becomes pregnant is four to six times more likely to become a teen mom herself. A younger sibling whose older brother or sister drinks underage is twice as likely to drink underage as well. If that older sibling is a cigarette smoker, the younger sibling is four times as likely to take up the habit. When older siblings use marijuana and other drugs, the risk for use among their younger siblings also increases substantially.

An interesting finding, however, is that the closer in age the siblings, the less likely the younger one is to follow in the footsteps of the older sibling. Some experts say this to be due, in part, to the younger sibling wanting to stand out from his or her older sibling, which could be a positive or a negative, depending on the situation.

 As for the “better” news; good behavior role modeling by older siblings is believed to be just as contagious among younger brothers and sisters. An adolescent is more likely to have a negative attitude toward substance use and make more positive decisions in general when his or her older sibling chooses to be drug-free and demonstrates other healthy lifestyle behaviors.

It’s important to be aware and to share! The first step in drug prevention is awareness. The second piece is conveying that information to your children. First and foremost, make sure you’re talking with your older and younger children on a regular and ongoing basis (age-appropriate of course) about the dangers of substances.

When speaking with older siblings: Stress the importance of their decision making and how it not only impacts their life, but the life of their younger siblings who look up to them.

When speaking with younger siblings: Talk with them about the fact that they are not destined to repeat their older siblings’ negative behavior. Empower younger siblings by reminding them that they are their own person, fully capable of making healthier, more positive lifestyle choices, and avoiding the same mistakes that their older sibling may have made.


Sources: Academia: Sibling Influence on Adolescent Alcohol, Cigarette, and Marijuana Drug Use. Benjamin Guild Gibbs, June 2005Europe PMC - Sibling influences on adolescent substance use: the role of modeling, collusion, and conflictHuffington Post: Proof There’s Nothing Quite Like A Sibling Bond, Aug. 2014NPR: Health News - Big Sibling’s Big Influence: Some Behaviors Run In The Family, April 2013Nursing Schools: 15 Fascinating Scientific Facts About Siblings, May 2011.

Know! To STOP Sexting In Its Tracks

posted Jun 30, 2017, 5:47 PM by Tim Pohlman   [ updated Jun 30, 2017, 5:47 PM ]


Talking regularly with youth about the dangers of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs reduces their risk of using in the first place.
Know! encourages you to share this Parent Tip with friends and family.
Know! is a program of Prevention Action Alliance
Link to Prevention Action Alliance's Facebook page
Prevention Action Alliance
6171 Huntley Road, Suite G
Columbus, Ohio 43229
Know! To STOP Sexting In
Its Tracks
In the previous tip, Know! Your Child’s Risk for Sexting, we talked about the prevalence of teen sexting, the problems it can cause and the importance of making this topic a priority in your conversations with your pre-teens and teens. In this tip, we provide parents with ideas on taking those conversations beyond, “You better never…”
Sexting isn’t risk-free (as many teens may believe). Schools can only do so much to curtail such activity, which means it falls upon us, as parents and caregivers, to give our children a clear understanding of the dangers and consequences of sexting. 
Here are some suggestions:
  • Get them talking about the topic by asking (in a non-confrontational way) what they know about sexting (keep in mind they may call it something different) and if they know of peers doing it
  • Remind them that messages and photos that are meant to be private can easily be shared, even through apps and such that claim privacy – there is no safeguarding an image or message once sent, as it can easily be received, copied and forwarded
  • Tell them that if they receive a sext to NEVER forward it or share with anyone – as it could be a violation of privacy laws or possibly be considered child pornography 
  • Let them know that there are real scenarios of such images being forwarded and ending up on pornographic websites – causing real safety concerns for the females or males in the photos
  • Share with them the stories of young people who deeply regretted their decision to send inappropriate photos or videos of themselves and are now dealing with extreme social ridicule
  • Be clear on your expectations that they do NOT ever post or send any type of sexually-oriented content, as well as the consequences should this rule be broken
  • Monitor your teen’s phones and other electronic devices – it’s not an invasion of privacy, it’s your job
  • Make it a house rule that cell phones are collected before bedtime and charged in your room overnight (as nighttime is a popular time for sexting to occur)
  • Be actively engaged in your child’s daily life; talk with them regularly about your family’s values; help to build their self-esteem; and teach them about the importance of privacy, intimacy and above all, self-respect
While there is no guarantee that your child will steer clear of such activity, the greatest defense against teen sexting is a parent who communicates openly with their child to provide a clear understanding of the risks, who sets clear expectations and consequences and is actively engaged in their child’s daily life. 

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