Parents often fear that if they discuss a subject like sex or drugs with their child that will push them towards the behavior. In fact the opposite is true. Children whose parents are open with them and frequently discuss irresponsible behaviors are less likely to engage in the behaviors themselves. I’m sure you’ve all seen the ads that encourage parents to talk to their kids about drugs and smoking, but how do you do it?
Here are some suggestions to make it easier:
Be aware – Be aware of the influences that your child faces on a daily basis. Realize that your child will probably be asked if they want a cigarette or to try drugs.
Inform yourself – Recognize the signs of drug use and the paraphernalia that is required to use drugs. Check with local schools, agencies, and information services for resources. The more informed you are the easier it is to talk about it.
Be clear – Keep your message simple, “Don’t use drugs.” Give them reasons to say, “No.”
Listen – Open a dialogue, ask questions and then listen to what your child has to say.
Keep things casual – Talk about drugs over dinner or while driving to school. Keep things casual, it will help your child relax and be more open. If the issue is too sensitive, talk about drugs in a general way, in society, or someone you might know with a drug problem.
Use teachable moments – If you have just seen a TV show or ad that discusses drug use, use that as a starting point for your own discussion on the topic.
Discuss peer pressure – Realize that your kids will be faced with drug use. Give them ways to say “no” and resist peer pressure.
Practice what you preach – If you don’t want your teen using drugs then don’t use them yourselves. Kids imitate their parents.
Don’t panic – If your child tells you that they have used drugs don’t panic. That will shut the door on further communication. Ask them questions about why they used drugs, the experience they had, and if they plan on using again. Later contact local resources for help on how to deal with the situation.
Talking about drugs with your kids isn’t always easy, but it is important. Open communication with your child will increase the chance that your child won’t do drugs and if they do use drugs that they will come to you for help.