It can be awkward to talk to kids about drugs and alcohol. You don’t want to mess up their innocence. You might be afraid that if they know about these things, they’ll be more likely to try them. The opposite is actually true—children who are informed are less likely to experiment with and less likely to abuse drugs and alcohol. It is one of those difficult but necessary conversations.
First and foremost, it is not a single conversation. It is an ongoing conversation throughout their lives. Children as young as 11 try alcohol and drugs. It is important to talk to your child before then so that they know what they are and what the dangers are.
Important points for talking to your child:
- Make sure what you say is age-appropriate. Don’t use words and concepts that go straight over your child’s head.
- Be clear, direct and honest. Children have a great built-in nonsense detector. They will listen and respect you most when you are clear and direct about what drugs and alcohol could do to them and what the consequences could be.
- Connect your concerns to their real lives. For example, if your child is into sports, let them know that drugs can adversely affect their performance, or if alcoholism runs in your family, remind your child of that.
- Assure them of your love and support. Let them know if they are ever in a position that they don’t feel comfortable (like at a party with no safe way home), they can call you and you will get them—no matter the time or location. Let them know if they were to ever try drugs, you would still love them, support them, and help them get help.
There are guides to help you break it down by age and give you ideas on ways to weave talking about drugs into everyday conversation. Again, this isn’t a conversation you can just check off your to-do list, it is an ongoing conversation that will be touched on repeatedly through your child’s life.
Don’t be afraid to talk to your child about drugs. Statistically, children who are talked to are not more likely to try drugs, but less likely. Knowledge is power and open communication keeps everyone safe. With these things in mind, you can help your child stay safe from drug addiction and alcoholism.
By Bethanie Ryan
Sources:https://drugfree.org/article/prevention-tips-for-every-age/: How to Talk to Kids about Drugs and Alcohol https://www.samhsa.gov/talk-they-hear-you/parent-resources/why-you-should-talk-your-child: How to Talk to Kids about Drugs and Alcohol https://www.healthparkpediatrics.com/tips-for-talking-to-kids-about-drugs/: How to Talk to Kids about Drugs and Alcohol