As a parent, one of your most difficult tasks may be having to talk to your kids about drugs. To make matters worse, this is a conversation you’ll have to have more than once. In fact, you may need to have it again and again. As children develop, they have different levels of comprehension and different levels of social awareness. What you tell a preschooler about drugs is very different than what you might tell a junior in high school. Learn to talk to your child about drugs at different ages.
Play it by ear when it comes to talking to your young child about drugs. Chances are, she’ll encounter some form of drugs on television, in advertisements or in person. Use that as an opportunity to bring up drugs like alcohol and cigarettes. Distinguish them from the types of drugs your child may take when she is ill or as a preventative measure. Don’t beat around the bush. Kidsheath.org recommends talking to kids about how drugs can make a person feel, the potential dangers of using them, and the possibilities of very dangerous effects like drug overdose.
D.A.R.E recommends watching kids for mood changes and different behavior. You may chalk these things up to becoming a teenager, but it’s important to understand that even middle school kids can begin using drugs and alcohol. As a parent, you have the ability to recognize potentially harmful behavior. Now is the time to discuss drugs in earnest, not just once, but often. Ask your child openly if he has seen someone using drugs or heard someone talking about using drugs. If you see news involving teens and young adults using drugs, being arrested for using drugs, or being injured or killed as a result of using drugs, share the news with your middle schooler and use it as an opportunity for discussion.
According to DrugFree.org, parents have more influence over children than friends, music, TV, the Internet and celebrities. This is your time to make a difference. During this period of your child’s life, he or she is more likely to be offered drugs. You teen probably has friends who use drugs regularly. Drugs are no longer a mystery. Now, more than ever, you need to talk to your child about the dangers of using. Your teen has the smarts to understand dangers. Give your teen solid facts, including information about drunk and drugged driving, overdose, and addiction. Help them focus on the aspects of their life that are positive and fulfilling. Make yourself available as a sounding board so that your teen can express fears and can open up to you.