We know that talking to your kids about drugs is not high up on the list of things any parent ever wants to do. We understand because we too, are parents. However, kids today are exposed to everything at a younger age than we ever were. Whether it is through media, social media, or conversations at school, talk about drugs, alcohol and cigarettes is happening. The time is now to get ahead of this and have those hard, but necessary conversations.

There’s no set standard of what’s best, but we’ve got a short list of five things that we encourage: start young, know the facts, be honest, be non-judgmental, and show support.

  1. Have the Chat Early and Keep it Going
  • It seems like every generation is learning both good and bad information at a younger age. Our recommendation is to start the chat with your 8-year-old and keep it going. You don’t need to talk about this every week, but if a particularly relevant situation arises, don’t hesitate to start the conversation. Otherwise, you know your child best, but we suggest every 6 months touching base on the topic.
  • Some subjects to explore:
    • Talk about the benefits of healthy living
    • Encourage your children to start making good decisions
    • Talk about drug related messages they might see in social or main stream media
    • Talk about rules and consequences
    • Help your kids define between fantasy and reality
  1. Know the Facts
  • Don’t guess, get accurate information. Talk to them about health concerns, how drugs can adversely affect their goals and dreams, and the negatives about doing drugs. Show them examples of people who have done drugs, and show them examples of people they respect that haven’t, and talk about the differences.
  1. Honest Really is the Best Policy
  • If you are asked a question and don’t know the answer, find out. It’s an opportunity to look details up together and show that you are willing to be a resource and a trusted confidant.
  1. Check Your Judgement at the Door
  • Your child may already have heard about addiction, alcohol, drugs, doing drugs, etc. They may refer to things like “my friend said it is cool to smoke” or “people have fun when they drink“. Don’t get into opinions on this, it is better to explore what they are already thinking and help them understand truths.
  1. Show Support, Regardless of How Surprised You May Be.
  • There may be a situation where your child tells you they’ve tried drugs or alcohol during this conversation. Sit down, and hear what they have to say. Then talk about what this means, the adverse effects and the consequences of these types of actions.

Remember, this isn’t a one-time conversation you have with your child. Starting early is smart, and we’d argue necessary, but don’t assume once is enough. Keep it going!

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