Warm, strict and informed

IGS welcomed Drug and Alcohol Research and Training Australia (DARTA) Director Paul Dillon to share the latest information about trends in adolescence and equip parents to set appropriate social boundaries.

Paul presented the Drugs, Alcohol and Your Child forum to IGS parents and caregivers, as part of the School’s Community Learning Program (CLP), supported by the Parents, Teachers and Friends Association (PTF).

The parent forum helped explain social pressures experienced by teens, how best to manage these situations, and how to maintain connectedness and a supportive environment for children.

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Deputy Principal Students & Campus Life Mary Duma, Paul Dillon and Principal Shauna Colnan

“Remember you are your child’s first and most important teacher,” Paul said. “Your influence changes from ‘manager’ in the early years, to ‘consultant’ in adolescent years, and you should understand how to navigate through this change.”

Paul described four categories of parental styles with teens:

  • authoritarian (strict, not warm)
  • authoritative (warm and strict)
  • permissive or indulgent (warm, not strict)
  • neglectful or uninvolved (neither strict nor warm).

He said being an “authoritative” parent or caregiver was ideal, along with promoting positive norms, and creating rules and consequences to encourage structure in a child’s life.

During the parent forum, Paul unveiled some alarming risks associated with early frequent consumption of alcohol.

Paul identified these risks as:

  • increased risk of liver disease
  • increased cancer risk, particularly breast cancer in young women
  • the earlier you drink, the greater the risk of future alcohol problems, including dependendency
  • damage to the developing brain.

In exploring the developing brain, Paul shared that female brains are usually fully developed by 21 to 22 years of age, while male brains are not fully developed until much later, with some research now suggesting that it may be as late as 35 years. He said drinking at an early age can affect and or damage the hippocampus (learning and memory capacity of the brain).

Paul recommends that all teenagers with smartphones download the Emergency + app to their device. The app is free and was developed by Australia’s emergency services. It uses GPS functionality to assist in the case of an emergency, to reduce the time in providing critical location details required to mobilise emergency services.

DARTA’s website hosts an array of informative, thorough material for parents, caregivers and teachers, offering relevant information and guides to approaching adolescent social instances.

To conclude, Paul conveyed his “three simple golden rules”:

  • know where your child is
  • know who they’re with
  • know when they’ll be home.

“Tell your children they’re great, all the time!” he said. “There is always something positive you can find to say about your child, so find it and say it. Really listen to your child and connect with them.”

Paul Dillon has a strong relationship with IGS that now spans a number of years, enhancing knowledge and understanding within the school community year on year.