When you look in your sweet little one’s eyes, you don’t want to think about the challenges that adulthood brings. But unfortunately, too many of our kids are faced with challenges way before they come of age. Addiction is a growing problem in our society, and it affects some people more than others.

Spotting Addictive Tendencies in Children

If your child shows the following addictive tendencies, you may want to stress the importance of moderation and abstinence at a young age.

Genetics and family history

    If your child has a parent or grandparent who struggled with an addiction, he or she is more likely to follow that path. It doesn’t mean your child will, but it’s a good enough reason to have early conversations about the dangers of addictive substances.

    According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), family history is the single most reliable indicator of risk of future alcohol or drug dependence.

    Addiction used to have more of a stigma than it does today and families were more likely to try to sweep these things under the rug. Now that we know addiction is truly a disease, it’s important to bring family history to light and talk to our kids about their odds.

    An obsession with sugar

      Sugar addiction is a real thing, and it’s so ingrained in our culture that we don’t know how big of a problem it is. Case in point: the average American consumes about 20 teaspoons of sugar every day. That’s nearly 22 ounces of sugar each week! When you think about how sweet children’s foods are, it’s scary to imagine that their little bodies may be consuming even more sugar than average.

      Sugar is surprisingly at the root of many evils. You probably already know about its ties to tooth decay, obesity, and diabetes. But research has also linked sugar to certain types of cancer, heart disease, and high blood pressure.

      By teaching your children to consume sugar in moderation, you’re doing more than just fighting a sweet tooth. You are also helping your child learn healthy eating habits that can follow him for the rest of his life.

      Technology addiction

        As parents, we try to limit screen time as much as possible. But we also know that this sometimes seems like an impossible task. Once children reach their tween years, they’re yearning for the type of independence that technology delivers. But if your child is on a smartphone, gaming station or laptop more often than he or she interacts with family and friends, technology addiction may be at play.

        Technology addiction may sound like a made up thing, but it has become a real-life problem. People become addicted to the instant gratification they get from Googling something or posting an image for feedback. Real life doesn’t move at the speed of social media, so kids often bury themselves in that fast-paced world and become bored with everyday activities.  

        If you think your child is using technology too often, it may be time to set limits (or stricter limits). There’s a lot to life that our children can learn to enjoy outside of their smartphones (whether they like it or not).

        Social isolation

          Children who have a social anxiety disorder are more likely to abuse alcohol in their teenage years. If you notice that your child prefers to stay home rather than go out with friends, this may be cause for concern. Children who keep themselves isolated are also less likely to reach out for help or emotional support, so it’s important to keep the lines of communication open. It’s not always easy, but try to let your child know that they can talk to you about anything.

          Childhood trauma

            Children who have experienced traumatic events are more likely to exhibit addictive behaviors from childhood into adulthood. Typically, the behaviors are a way for the child to cope with pain and stress.

            Some examples of common childhood traumas include:

            • Physical, mental or other abuse
            • Death of a parent or close family member
            • Severe neglect

            Although it would be amazing if we could keep our babies sweet and innocent forever, time marches on. If we can teach our children how to avoid one of adulthood’s biggest pitfalls, they may have a better chance at succeeding in the future. And that’s what we all want, isn’t it?