The roots of addiction are often linked to childhood trauma. This is where the seeds of negative behavioral cycles take root. So it’s not surprising that by targeting the disruptive behavior early in a child’s life, the chances of him developing addictions during the teenage years are greatly decreased. Emphasis should be placed on doing this, because it is an effective preventive measure that lowers the number of teens who struggle with substance abuse. When it comes to addiction, studies show that taking preventative measures results in lower amounts of teen substance abuse. There are many reasons why targeting disruptive behavior in childhood is valuable, but the four most important reasons are listed below.
One: Teaches Impulse Control Children should be taught at a young age about how to manage impulsive behavior. Even as children they should learn that rash behavior has negative, sometimes serious, consequences. By teaching the child what causes the impulsive behavior, such as being angry or wanting instant gratification, he can work on controlling himself. Children should be taught how to think through their impulses before acting on them, and how to rationally reason what their appropriate behavior or response should be.
Two: Social Skills Development Addiction is often born of anxiety, and the inability to cope with social situations. Socializing and building on a child’s social skills can make a huge difference in his ability to cope with various social stressors later on as a teenager. Social skills can be taught, such as how to handle conflict, how to get along with others, and how to form friendships with others. By decreasing the chance of a child repeatedly engaging in anti-social behavior, it greatly reduces the risk of the teen needing to turn to drugs or alcohol to feel better about himself. In early childhood he can be taught how to develop:
- Conflict resolution skills
- A positive self-image
- Ways of coping with anxiety
Three: Parents Receive Proper Guidance Sometimes parents don’t know how to deal with a child’s disruptive behavior. This is understandable, as there’s no guidebook on how to raise a child properly. Each child is different, with a unique personality and needs. But the parent can be taught methods and ways of dealing with disruptive behavior from their child. By being taught how to recognize negative behaviors and how to set clear goals and guidance for their child, parents can have a positive impact early on. Sometimes teenagers turn to drugs or alcohol, because they lacked guidance from their parents, or felt neglected. Even rebellious children look for guidance from their parents, and parents can be given training and support about how to guide them.
Four: Targeting Disruptive Behavior Results In Long-Term Success The bottom line is that statistics repeatedly show that targeting disruptive behavior greatly lessens the chance of addiction once the child grows into his teenage years. By doing the groundwork now with the child, it’s a strong preventative measure against the child growing into addictive behaviors. A two-year intervention can yield positive results, and the results are also lasting. It’s more effective to target the child at the beginning then to go through years of frustrating attempts at rehabilitation. Also, since children are more malleable and are forming their personalities, targeting them creates the foundation of a socially and psychologically healthy individual. Many people turn to drugs or alcohol when they’re older as a means to escape situations that they cannot cope with.
Canadian researchers, in particular, have done a study, documenting the effects of targeting disruptive behavior. They had one group of boys receive the training, and another that did not. The results showed that the group of boys who received the targeting had significantly less problems with drugs and alcohol than the boys who didn’t. The results are promising, and more research should be done to study how addiction can be prevented in childhood.
Cindy Nichols is the founder of 411 Intervention, a full-service intervention resource that helps individuals with addiction issues find treatment solutions. You can see an interview with Cindy here on Recovery Now TV.