You can feed your kids all-organic dinners and exercise with them, but they’ll eventually have to make their own decisions about what’s good for them.
Your job is to get them ready for these moments.
This means having “the talk” about drugs and alcohol. These talks can be awkward because you’re never really sure what to say. You know it’s important to connect with your kids on topics like this, but where do you even start?
Here are six ways you can talk to your kids about drugs and alcohol:
1. Start with a question
Too often, parents approach these conversations as lectures. Instead, try to let your child lead the conversation by asking a question. Keep it age appropriate, but it’s usually good to find out whether your child knows anyone who does drugs or abuses alcohol. If they say yes, ask them what they think about it.
From here, you can talk about the dangers of drugs and alcohol with potentially negative outcomes.
2. Share interesting facts
Remember back to when you were a kid. If you’re like many of us, you thought your friends knew more about drugs and alcohol than your parents. After all, some of your friends might have actually done drugs. They must be some kind of authority.
As a parent, it’s important to send the message that you understand this topic well. You can do this by sharing statistics and information about how drugs affect the brain and body. When your kids see you as an authority on the topic, they’re more likely to trust your guidance and come to you with questions.
3. Use current events
Whenever drugs or alcohol are mentioned on the news, use that opportunity to reinforce everything you’ve said during your drug and alcohol talk.
4. Start early
You always want to keep the conversation age appropriate, but you can probably start talking about drugs sooner than you think. As soon as your child understands medicine, you can talk about how it’s important to take the right amount to avoid getting sick. Also, let your kids know that you should only take medicine when you really need it.
As your kids get into their teen and pre-teen years, you can begin to share more about recreational drug abuse and how it can affect a person’s life.
5. Keep an open dialogue
Sensitive conversations like this one go more smoothly when your kids are used to talking with you. Ask about their day and what they learned in school. Ask how their friends are doing and whether they’re reading any good books. Even when your kids seem to be shutting you out, keep talking.
6. Share recovery stories
Although you want your kids to avoid drugs, they should also know that mistakes don’t define you. They should feel comfortable talking to you about anything. And they shouldn’t feel like their lives are over I they find themselves addicted.
Now that you have a few techniques to use, the important part is to start talking. It’s better to have an awkward conversation than to have no conversation at all.
Have you ever had the drug talk with your kids? How did it go?
Bio: Rachel is a freelance content writer located in San Diego, California and has written a variety of health, parenting, and fitness articles. Currently, Rachel is writing for Ohio Addiction Recovery Center to help spread information and treatment opportunities. In her free time, she enjoys running along the beach with her two puppies and practicing yoga.