Early time with parents can help children later on

FRESNO, Calif.

But that pivotal moment in your child's life doesn't have to be so uncomfortable if you start early: before your kid can even talk.

The playroom at the Stone Soup Community Center in North Fresno is never quiet and the families and teachers, like it that way.

The popular program that's free for kids and parents has a waiting list because it offers much more than just fun.

Stone Soup Executive Director Maika Yang says these children are getting valuable one-on-one time with their parents that will pay off when they're facing the challenges of adolescence like pressure to drink alcohol, experiment with drugs or have sex.

"Research has shown kids who have social skills also build resilience and they're able to withstand those tough decisions and they feel more comfortable going to an adult or a parent to help them solve those kinds of problems," Yang said.

In no doubt what will seem like a blink of an eye to their parents, today's little ones will soon be in grade school, and then junior high and high school. The hope is they'll have the support and tools to deal with peer pressure. One group of high school students is tackling that tough issue, right on their campus, face to face with their friends.

At Fresno Unified's Sunnyside High School a group of teens is leading an effort to spread a message about underage drinking.

As part of a project to change the perception of drinking the teens are putting up posters about a survey they conducted on campus that showed 82 percent of their peers do not drink, a reality that may be the opposite of what they think, all their friends are doing.

So what can help a child make good choices when faced with peer pressure?

Yammilette Rodriguez, one of the adult mentors of Youth Leadership institute also says it all starts at home.

"Have that open door, that open line of communication so that when that young person is facing something that they can come to you that they know they can come to you, without being judged so it's really important to have that relationship with your young one," Rodriguez said.

So before toddlers become teens, experts say the simple act of creating a bond with your child helps build a strong foundation they can rely on when the going gets tough.

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