So, your teenager is about to finish their Year 12 exams and head off for a holiday with their mates. Whether they are going to an official Leavers or Schoolies event, or just spending a week away from home with their friends, this is likely to be their first taste of freedom as an adult away from parental supervision. Here are a few tips to help you guide them towards making the right choices.
Be involved in the planning:
- Know who your teen intends holidaying with, where they are going and for how long, how they plan to get there and back, and where they will be staying. Make sure they understand the bond and other requirements of their accommodation.
- Make sure your teenager has adequate funds budgeted for the trip, and agree up front how much (if any) you will be contributing. Ensure they have sufficient funds to cover emergencies such as getting a taxi home from a party.
- Check out the intended location online (if you are not familiar with it already), and take note of the contact details for the venue.
- Get the contact details of your child’s trusted friend and/or the friend’s parents as an alternative method of contacting your child if required.
- Find out what events are on and also make sure your child is aware of support services that are available and has made a note of emergency and support service phone numbers. (Ensure you also have a copy of these numbers.)
- Make sure there is adequate mobile phone coverage at the destination.
Make sure they are aware of the risks and have mitigation strategies in place:
- Discuss the risks involved with drugs and alcohol and personal sexual behaviours. See www.drugaware.com.au for information on staying safe. Another helpful site is http://au.reachout.com/schoolies-survival-guide.
- Encourage them to always have a ‘Plan B’ – a back-up plan to get home, for example, if the original plan is no longer appropriate.
- Encourage your teen and his or her friends to look out for each other, and avoid situations that may escalate into fights or other threats to their safety. Discuss strategies they can use to support/positively influence their friends who may be at risk of making a bad decision or doing something dangerous.
- Explain the importance of quickly seeking medical assistance if their friends are suffering from serious alcohol or drug related health issues, rather than being worried about getting their friends or themselves into trouble.
- If they are going to be driving their friends at any time, remind them of the responsibility this involves, as well as the fact that the driver is often held responsible for the misbehaviour of their passengers.
- Discuss the importance of social media with them and the need for them to be aware of what photos they may be part of, who is taking those photos or who they share them with.
- Let your child and their friends know they can call you anytime if they need to. Make sure they also have the number of another trusted adult family member or friend in case they can’t make immediate contact with you.
While they are away:
- Agree on a time when your son or daughter can call you each day. Make sure they remember to charge their phone and have sufficient credit.
- If you do receive a call in the middle of the night – don’t panic! Calmly find out what the problem is and help if you can. This is not the time to ‘go off’ at your teen – any issue can be dealt with later in a calm and sensible way. If necessary, contact emergency or support services at the location and ask them to provide assistance.
- Don’t assume the worst! Trust them to be adults.