How to Talk to Kids About Drugs
With the arrest of Justin Bieber yesterday and talk of legalizing marijuana in Minnesota all over the news, what should you say when your kids ask about drugs?
An Ounce of Prevention
Every time your child gets sick is a time you can talk to your kids about drugs. When you’re giving your child Tylenol or Children’s Asprin, count out how many you give and explain that it’s not safe to take more and they could get even sicker by taking more than what you give them. Warning labels are also there for a reason. Keep all drugs out of reach of children and make sure they’re hidden, locked away or up high and out of reach.
Asking your child what they think about drugs is also a good, non-judgemental, open ended way to start the conversation. Don’t worry about not getting an answer right away. The seed is planted and they’re thinking about it. Don’t just assume that your kid knows better. I knew better and I still did it.
Teenagers are very likely to know kids in their class who smoke or use drugs. When they start talking about it, make sure you stop what you’re doing and listen to what they have to say. They’re opening the dialog, so pay attention. Also make sure not to yell or threaten because that’s going to slam the door closed for good.
Create a Healthy Environment
No one and no family is completely immune from drug and alcohol abuse, but creating a healthy environment where the dialog is open is a step in the right direction. Know who your kids are hanging out with, and it’s important to get to know their parents. Kids who have friends who use drugs or alcohol are more likely to try it.
Know the Signs
If you notice that your normally bright, happy child is suddenly quiet, angry, isolated, losing interest in things they used to love, changed friend groups, has slipping grades, it may be time to have a talk. Make sure it’s a conversation, not yelling, cursing, crying and accusing. Come right out and ask what’s going on. If they deny it, let it go, but don’t be afraid to look through bags, cars and closets. If you do find something, it’s wise to deal with it quickly and get them help before things get worse.
Drug use and alcohol abuse knows no color or socioeconomic bounds. I grew up in a middle class home with two parents who encouraged me to do the best I could every day and I still ended up in rehab. Shame the choice, not the person. Remember, this is not a failure on you as a parent. It’s going to take the help and support of the whole family unit, so make sure everyone is in it together.