Jun 24, 2013 8:00 AM

Author: Kathy Wilets

If you have kids, you probably know all about baby-proofing your home, but if you have older children, have you thought about teen-proofing your home? With time on their hands and no adult supervision, summer can be a time of inactivity, overeating, and experimentation.

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, summer is the most popular time for teens to experiment with marijuana, alcohol and cigarettes. The survey estimates there are roughly 6,300 new marijuana users a day during June and July compared to 4, 700 new users during other times of the year.

Painkillers are the most commonly abused drugs by teens after tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana. In fact, each day an average of 2,000 teenagers age 12 to 17 used a prescription drug without a doctor’s guidance for the first time.

Here are some of the strategies Nikki Mihalopoulos, MD, an adolescent medicine specialist at University of Utah Health, recommends to parents:

Drugs and alcohol

• Keep alcohol locked up, including alcoholic beverages kept in the refrigerator.

• Keep all prescription drugs locked up. This protects your children and any friends who may visit your home

• Make your attitude and expectations clear by talking to your children and clarifying rules about cigarettes, drugs, and alcohol.

Keeping busy

• While teens may be too old for many summer camps and programs, there are a few geared to this age group. In addition, older kids can often work as counselors and junior staff at summer programs for younger kids, or find jobs babysitting or mowing lawns.

• Encourage older teens to get a summer job.

• Assign teens chores to help keep them busy and scheduled during the day.


• Encourage your child’s friends to come to your home so you can get to know them and don’t be afraid to make sure friends understand your house rules.

• Know your child’s friends and their parents. Make sure you connect with other parents about house rules and unsupervised time spent in homes

Food and activity

• Help kids plan out meals so they aren’t prone to overeating and snacking on junk food all day.

• Provide grab and go snacks and drinks for kids such as fruit, yogurt, nuts, and sugar-free beverages.

• Have at least one meal each day as a family.

• If you are gone during the day, plan activities with kids in the evening. Many pools and parks are open late. By doing activities in the evening, you avoid the heat of the day and the most damaging sun rays.

Kathy Wilets

Kathy Wilets is the Associate Director of Public Affairs in the Health Sciences Public Affairs Office

teen health

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