You probably know that healthy communication with your child is the best means to a promising future – free of drugs and alcohol abuse. Kids who aren’t properly informed are at a much greater risk of experimenting with drugs and alcohol. Talk to your children about drugs. You can get more tips on how to have a conversation with your child here.
PRESCHOOL TO AGE 8
By now you’ve hopefully already laid the groundwork for a discussion so try to not get nervous. Your child is young, so you want to keep the drug and alcohol conversation age-appropriate. For example, when you give your child prescription medication or over-the-counter (OTC) medication there’s your opportunity to discuss the responsible way to use those drugs. Take advantage of “teachable moments”. If you see a cigarette on the ground talk about smoking, nicotine addiction and what smoking can do to your body. If you see someone drinking a beer talk about how drinking can cause a person to do silly things and not think properly when they’re under the influence.
AGE 9 to 12
You can start asking your children their opinions on drugs, since they are a little bit older. Ask the questions in an open-ended, nonjudgmental way and you’re likely to get a more truthful answer. Kids are usually willing to talk openly to their parents about sensitive subjects. If your question doesn’t end up in a conversation, that’s okay because at least you’ll have gotten your kids thinking about the issue. Also, by showing your kids you’re willing to discuss the topic and listen to them, they will be willing to come to you for help in the future.
AGE 13 to 18
Take this quiz about drug facts with your child to test your knowledge on the subject. At this age, some kids are already abusing drugs like marijuana or prescription medications. Don’t forget about the drugs in your own home! Many teenagers pilfer their parents and grandparents medications to either use or to give to their friends. You should also be aware that many teenagers abuse OTC medications, like Triple Cs. It’s important to make sure that your teenager knows that prescription medication is not safe unless it is prescribed to them by a doctor, and even then you will need to monitor their usage. Always try to keep the conversation with your children open and without judgement. If your child feels comfortable discussing drugs with you, then he or she is much more likely to come to you with drug-related questions. An open-ended dialogue will ensure that the lines of communication are always open.
When you talk to your child about drugs, it’s important for you to remember a few things:
1. Give your child your full attention. Turn off the TV, cell phone and computer and really listen.
2. Try not to “talk at” your child. Encourage your child to ask questions. If you don’t know the answer, find it together. The internet is a great resource!
3. If you find out your child is using drugs, don’t panic. Ask your child about why they’re using the drug. If you can find out the honest reason behind the drug use, then you can figure out the best plan of action. It’s normal for some teenagers to experiment with drugs or alcohol. However, it’s up to you as the parent to make sure that your children know that using drugs and alcohol is not acceptable in your home. If you find out that your child is using drugs or alcohol and you’re unsure of what to do, then give us a call at Inspirations for Youth and Families. We will be happy to answer any questions you may have.
Remember, it’s never too late to talk to your children about drugs and alcohol. Get started talking. Everyday events are all around us. Even if your teen may have tried tobacco, alcohol, or drugs, you can still talk about making better, healthier choices and how to say “NO” next time.