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Tips To Help Children Of Addiction

We have often discussed the terrible repercussions an addiction can have on children within a household. They, of course, are victims of this terrible disease as well and undergo a great deal emotional trauma seeing their parent (or parents) suffer. To that point, we thought it would be helpful to share some effective coping tips put together by the writers at NPR. These five simple tactics can actually make a significant difference.

Tip #1: Be Caring and Consistent
Of course, you would shower care and love unto a child that has dealt with addiction in the home. But a key point here is consistency. Maintain your affections and kindness, but also (to the point of the NPR writers) try not to pry. Let the children know that you are there for them, but not someone who is trying to make them uncomfortable.

Tip #2: Don't Forget the Addicted Parent
Often times children in these situations fall into the care of a family member while their parent is going through treatment. And, in worst case scenarios, they'll be permanently placed if a mother or father has fatally overdosed. In both of these instances, it is ok to bring up that parent and still speak affectionately about them. Don't try to erase their memories and be willing to talk if the little ones ask questions.

Tip #3: Repeatedly Remind Them That It's Not Their Fault
There is a tendency, at times, for the children themselves to feel responsible if a parent is removed because of an addiction. And this is particularly prominent among teenagers. To help cope, NPR recommends sharing a phrase called The Seven C's. "I didn't cause it. I can't control it. I can't cure it. But I can help take care of myself by communicating my feelings, making healthy choices and celebrating me."

Tip #4: Look Beyond Bad Behavior
It is not uncommon for children who have gone through this to act out and misbehave. In those instances, it is important to look beyond isolated incidents (such as talking back or breaking something) and understand that these are reactions to the addiction situation. Yes, discipline should still be a factor but give leeway when possible; as the trauma may be influencing their actions.

Tip #5: Encourage Silliness
And finally, don't forget about the power of fun. Addiction is a heavy subject and these children have undergone a lot of suffering. Whenever possible, lighten the mood, go to an amusement park, watch a funny movie or simply show them all of the positives that come from life.