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6. Don't take any drug or medicine casually.

Teens may think it's safer to get high on prescription drugs like Adderall (used to treat ADHD) or nonprescription drugs such as cough medicines because they're legal -- unlike street drugs.

Many teens don't know that you can overdose on nonprescription medications, because you can buy them at a pharmacy or the grocery store without a prescription. But they can be just as dangerous as street drugs when they are abused. Also, because medicines can be easy to get from home medicine cabinets, some kids share medicines with friends or sell them.

"Tell your teen that even prescription and over-the-counter drugs carry risks and side effects, and she doesn't know what the side effects will be for her because they're different for everyone," Pickhardt says.

Abusing stimulants like some ADHD drugs can cause seizures or heart failure. Let your teen know that their body and brain are too precious to take the risk.

7. Drinking can warp your brain.

Explain that 21 isn't just a random number. The reason the legal drinking age is 21 is because alcohol can cause long-term changes in your teen’s brain while it's still developing.

Teens who drink are also more likely to have unprotected sex and be assaulted or assault others sexually, get in car accidents and fights, and take dangerous dares.

8. Find your passion.

Urge your teen to become an expert in something they love. This will help satisfy their longing for excitement.

"He'll learn that he can get thrills from things like performing, being recognized, pushing the boundaries, and being creative -- not just from sex, drugs, or other risky behavior," Holmes says. Follow this up by making opportunities for him to try new things, Pickhardt says.

9. People mess up. Learn from your mistakes.

It may seem obvious, but teens need to be reassured that everyone makes mistakes and that they can use theirs as learning opportunities.

For example, Holmes says, a girl who regrets having had sex may think that since she has done it once, "What does it matter anymore? It's too late to change."

But she can set new limits to avoid making whatever she feels is a mistake twice. Tell your teen that learning from their mistakes will make them wiser.

Preparing for Middle School

Tips to help your tween cope with this exciting but risky time.
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