With the COVID-19 threat, many schools are closed and parents are working from home. This can create challenges, but also tremendous opportunities.

We know that protective factors are key in reducing risk factors in children that may lead to negative health behaviors. Families are keys to armoring their children with resilience and helping them face challenges that may come their way. As you are home with your kids, you have a huge opportunity to strengthen parental support and deepen family bonds, demonstrate good coping and problem-solving skills, further enhance their self-esteem and reinforce the stable home environment you’ve created for your kids.

This virus is slowing us all down and we should use this time wisely with our family. Maintain familiar routines in daily life as much as possible.  Provide engaging age-appropriate activities. If schools are providing information to school assignments to assist in learning, integrate instructional time into the schedule. Daily reading time can be a time for parents and kids to both have quiet time to read and relax. Be sure to PLAY and have FUN!

Last, but not least, have you ever talked to your kids about drugs? If not, this is an opportunity to do so. If you have, it is always good to revisit the subject. Talk early…talk often! 9 out of 10 people with substance problems starting using by age 18. Every year substance use is delayed, the risk of addiction and substance abuse decreases 4 to 5 percent (SAMHSA, 2015).

For some parents, this may create anxiety. How do I bring up the subject? Do I share my own experience with my child? Visit www.metrodrug.org for tips on how to talk to your children about drugs based on their ages. Guess what? There’s also an app for that! Use the “Talk. They Hear You” app by SAMHSA as an online role-play tool to practice and build skills and is available free in the app store.