Skip Navigation

SAFE HARBOR #6: Supervisory Check-in

Monitor your child’s activities:

  • Help your child identify and develop talents and interests.
  • Find ways for your child to keep busy when you are not there.
  • Get to know your child’s friends and their parents.
  • Know names, phone numbers, and addresses of your child’s contacts.
  • Set up check-in and pick-up times for when your child is away from home.

Why should you monitor your child’s activities?

Having large blocks of unsupervised time is a risk factor for underage alcohol use.

Having too much time with nothing to do is a common reason children give for abusing alcohol.

It is important for children to know that their parents are keeping an eye on them.

Help your child identify and develop talents and interests. Children need to try new and different activities to find out what they like and what they are good at. This awareness boosts self-esteem, which gives children the strength to say no when faced with peer pressure and unhealthy temptations. When children have goals in connection with their activities, such as achieving good grades or helping their team win, they are more motivated to keep their minds and bodies healthy.

Find ways for your child to keep busy when you are not there. Make sure you know how your child is spending time when not in school, and make sure your child always has something better to do than drink alcohol.

Get to know your child’s friends and their parents. Children are more likely to experiment with alcohol if their friends do and if they spend a lot of time together without adult supervision. Getting to know your child’s friends can tell you a lot about your child’s daily life. When you do this, you will be better able to recognize possible problems and to guide your child away from risky situations, dangerous behaviors, and negative peer influences. Get to know other parents, too, by going to school events, going to other places where parents get together, talking by phone, or stopping to chat when you drop off or pick up your child. Work with other parents to build a support network for your child and your child’s friends.

Know names, phone numbers, and addresses of your child’s contacts. When your child goes somewhere, you need to know where, with whom, and for what reason. Get the phone numbers and addresses of friends’ houses and other places where your child likes to go. Also, let your child know that you may call or drop by to check that everything is all right—and sometimes do just that.

Set up check-in and pick-up times for when your child is away from home. Make arrangements for your child to be in contact with you and to check in at agreed-upon times. For example, provide coins for the pay phone, a phone card, a cell phone, or a text message. Tell your child why checking in is important. Work out reasonable rules for how often and when to check in. Explain that your concern is safety, not control. Also, always let your child know where you are going to be and how you can be reached. Children should always know where their parents or another trusted adult will be if they need to call for advice or to be picked up from an unhealthy situation.

When your child isn’t busy enough …

Boredom is a risk factor for underage alcohol use. To find supervised activities for your child, look for activities such as:

  • School programs: Before-school, afterschool, and summer programs;
  • Libraries: Homework sessions, children’s programs, and book clubs;
  • City and county programs: Camps, afterschool clubs, and sports programs;
  • Faith-based programs: Churches, synagogues, mosques, and other places of worship that have youth programs open to the public;
  • National organizations: YMCA, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, and 4H; and
  • Mentoring programs: Programs that match children one-on-one or in small groups with responsible, adult role models.

To find activities for your child to do, ask other people for ideas. Some people you might ask include school teachers and counselors, librarians, and social service professionals.