Skip to main content

Millis/Medway - Local Town Pages

‘SUP Medway speaker discusses brain-based parenting

By Theresa Knapp
In April, ‘SUP Medway sponsored a brain-based parenting workshop entitled, “How to Use Brain Science for Parenting Modern Teens & Tweens.” The event was geared toward caregivers of middle and high school aged youth, and focused on increasing parental awareness to prevent substance abuse. 
The speaker was Dr. Crystal Collier, creator of and author of The NeuroWhereAbouts Guide, an infographic-style manual detailing youth brain development. 
Collier started with her personal story. She was addicted as a teen and has been sober since 1989. Her career has been spent researching and sharing brain-based, social-emotional, and prevention skills with schools and caregivers. 
At the Medway event, Collier shared several ways to prevent substance use including: 
• Consistent preventative education in schools and home
• Prosocial activity
• Regular family dinners
• Pro-active community action
• Brain-based praise
• Create a Family Code 
   of Ethics
• Give consistent consequences
• Treat problems immediately 
•Start conversations at an early age and continue to have them
• Encourage conversation by saying “Tell me more”

She emphasized the importance of family dinners. 
“Make sure you have a lot of family dinners. Family dinner research is really, really interesting,” said Collier. “The more family dinners that you have, the less risky behavior kids engage in.” She said the opposite is also true: when the number of family dinners decreases, high risk behavior increases. 
Collier referenced statistics from Mass General’s which shares research, recipes, conversation starters, and more related to the importance of family dinners. 
She encouraged parents to build a “family code,” a simple set of rules a family lives by, repeated often, and each member of the family is held accountable to follow the code. Instructions are available at Collier’s website 
Collier outlined the importance of refusal skills, and recommended parents drug-test their children, which she said is the “best refusal skill.” 
“One of the best tools that you can give your kid is drug testing,” said Collier, acknowledging this can be controversial. “It feels like an invasion of privacy and it is but, as a parent, your job is to invade that privacy because they don’t have their own frontal lobe to keep them safe enough.” That way, she said, the teen can refuse a substance by saying, “Oh no, my mom drug tests me” and it really works. 
A recording of the presentation is available at 
‘SUP Medway events are funded in part by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.