If your teenage child has memories of a happy childhood, they are less likely to indulge in drinking or substance abuse and enjoy learning, a new study suggests. The findings, published in the journal Addiction Research and Theory, indicated that positive attitudes towards the past, present and future put adolescents at lower risk of alcohol use, binge drinking and marijuana.
"Many teenagers also aren't engaging with online learning during Covid-19 or have lower engagement levels," said researcher John Mark Froiland from Purdue University in Indiana, US.
"But they are more likely to be enthusiastic learners and not use drink and drugs if teachers take time to build more positive relationships with them. They can help students see that everything they are learning is truly valuable. Parents have a role to play too," Froiland added.
For the study, the team assessed 1,961 students at a high school and half (53 per cent) of the pupils included in the study were female.
The researchers looked at responses from pupils where they rated how nostalgic they were of their childhood, current happiness levels in life and how much they look forward to future happiness.
They also analysed marijuana and alcohol habits over the past 30 days including binge drinking, and average academic grades. They analysed motivation levels, and behaviour in lessons such as how much teenagers paid attention and listened.
Statistical techniques were used by the researchers to assess the associations between all these different factors and establish the key predictors for alcohol and marijuana misuse.
The researchers are calling on teachers and parents to help students develop more positive mindsets and become motivated to learn so they are less likely to binge drink or use marijuana.
The aim of this study was to establish how substance misuse and behaviour towards learning are affected by students' feelings about the past, present and future.