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Discussing Drugs with Your Child

A storyteller-researcher who focuses on the prevention of mental disorders and substance abuse among children, youth, and young adults.

Substance abuse

Substance abuse

How Should I Start The Discussion About Drugs With My Child?

You are a role model for your children, and your attitudes toward alcohol, tobacco, and drugs can have a significant impact on how they perceive them. So implement drug discussion into your general health and safety discussions.

Start making the most of "difficult conversations" right now. If you see a character in a movie or on TV smoking, talk about smoking and what it does to a person's body. This can spark a discussion about other drugs and their risk of side effects.

Maintain a calm tone and use terms that your child can understand. Explain that drugs are dangerous and can cause a variety of health problems. Teach children from an early age how to say no when they are offered something they know is dangerous.



How Should I Approach My 8 to 12-Year-Old When Discussing Drugs?

Raise this issue with your children as they get older by asking them what they've heard about drugs. Ask in a nonjudgmental, open-ended manner to increase your chances of gaining an honest response.
Remember to demonstrate to your children that you are listening to and responding to their concerns and questions. You may need to do some research to provide your children with factual information.
This age group of children is still open to discussing touchy subjects with their parents. Talking now helps keep the door open so that children can continue to share their thoughts and feelings as they grow older.

News about steroid use in professional sports, for example, can be used to start a conversation and educate your children about the dangers of drugs.



How Should I Reach My Teenager About Drugs?

Teens are more likely to have peers who use drugs or alcohol, as well as friends who drive. Have conversations with your teen not only to understand his or her thoughts and feelings, but also to discuss the dangers of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Discuss the legal implications — jail time and fines — as well as the possibility that they or someone else will be killed or seriously injured.

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Consider making a written or verbal agreement outlining the rules for going out or driving. You can promise to pick up your children at any time (even 2 a.m.!) with no questions asked if they call you when the person in charge of driving has been drinking or using drugs.

They may ask you more specific drug-related questions. By discussing this with your teen from the beginning, you can set clear expectations and make them feel safe coming to you.

How to Talk to Your Child About Drugs and Alcohol

How to Talk to Your Child About Drugs and Alcohol

How Can I Help Keep My Kids Safe From Drugs?

Any family can be affected by drugs. However, by having conversations with your children and trying to remain involved in their daily lives, you can help keep them safe.

Encourage your children to participate in hobbies, sports, and clubs that they are interested in. Positive interactions and self-esteem can benefit from this. Learn about their friends and where they spend their time. Kids who have drug-using friends are more likely to experiment with drugs themselves.

Teach children how to refuse drugs if they are offered them. Tell them they can always text or call to leave a situation and you will come to get them.

A warm, open family environment in which children can express their feelings, their achievements are praised, and their self-esteem is boosted encourages children to come forward with their questions and concerns.

Make conversation with your children a daily habit of your daily routine. Make time for things you enjoy doing as a family to help everyone stay connected and communicate openly. When you're in the car or walking together, kids are more likely to talk because they don't have to make eye contact.

Pay attention so you can recognize when your children are experiencing difficulties. Provide the assistance they require or seek additional assistance if necessary.

Consult your doctor if you require additional resources for yourself or your child.

© 2022 Charlene Grendon

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