Do you remember the candy Smarties? I remember the pastel colored candy. Mainly, it was seen around Halloween and in the trick or treat bags. I have not thought twice about the candy in years, until it was brought to my attention by my daughter. The once innocent candy is now being crushed into a fine powder and inhaled as to imitate cocaine use. This is a trend among middle schoolers in the cafeteria, and classrooms throughout the United States.
I asked myself why children would imitate drug use. Peer pressure to fit in and to be liked by peers. Children are trying to find their own identity and which group of kids they fit in with. At this age, children are concerned about being liked by their peers. Parents can help children work through the peer pressure period.
Communication: This is key in parenting. It is imperative to have open and nonjudgement lines of communication even when a child is young. Listen to your children. If there are more than one child in the home, make time to spend individual time with each child for twenty minutes at least three times a week. This time could be right before bed, driving to the store, or while putting dishes up in the dishwasher. An elderly women advised me as a young parent, to listen and fully engage the uninteresting conversations my child tells me. Even if the conversations were I saw a turtle today or we had green peas for lunch. As the child get older and recognized a consistent genuine engaged listener, the conversation would get more interesting and loaded with information during the preteens and teen years.
Educate: Educate children on peer pressure. Discussed with child how to recognize and deal with pressure on their own. Educate child on different YouTube challenges and explained openly the risks of the challenges. Encourage child to come and talk about peer pressures they may be experiencing. However, ensure your reactions is not in a judgmental or “they will get in trouble” attitude. Sometimes use humor and tell the truth on your thoughts and family beliefs. Upon hearing about the Smarty Candy, I asked my child to show videos of what the children at her school are talking about and doing. We researched together the risk of snorting Smarties. Then, I chuckled and said “this is the dumbest thing I ever saw”. She chuckled also and loaded my ear with tons more hot topics that are going on in middle school.