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Talking With Children About Alcohol & Drugs

Listen

Being open about drugs and discussion is extremely important. Though it is important during a conversation to make your standpoint on drugs clear, be wary of your discussion turning into a lecture. The more listening you can do during the discussions the better.

When parents listen to their children, they feel comfortable speaking to them about their problems and drugs are a less likely avenue.

Be honest and open

Children are more likely to respect parents who have been honest and open with them. One of the first things that children think about when faced with drugs is, “what will my parents think?” The chances are higher of them rejecting drugs on this thought alone if there has been open positive discussion about drugs.

Be prepared for questions

Whether your child has some questions about drugs or is angry and ready to lash out, you need to be prepared. Think about the types of questions they could possibly ask, tricky questions like, have you ever taken drugs? If you have, you need to know what you will say. Assuming you don’t take drugs now, you can explain to them the reasons why you stopped.

Role-play how to say "no"

Even if your children are not all that interested in trying drugs and want to take your stance, the problem of peer group pressure can be extremely difficult for them to combat. You can ask your children what they may say or do if they were in certain situations involving drugs. For example:
If someone were to offer them some drugs at a party, what would they say?

If you like their answer let them know. If not, you can offer them suggestions and ask how they feel about these options. If they don’t seem 100% convinced, ask them why or offer other suggestions. The idea is that discussion is open and you are equipping them with ideas and confidence in dealing with drug related situations.

Make your stance clear

Repeat the message that you disapprove of drugs and that they are not welcome in your home. A good opportunity is when drugs are mentioned on TV, in music videos, lyrics or in magazines. Do not lecture; just use these opportunities as a way of bringing up the topic of drugs, asking your children’s thoughts and feelings on them and expressing your own.

Follow your stance on drugs up with reasons. I do not smoke and I do not want you to smoke because it is bad for your health. I want our family to be healthy, happy and to live long. Smoking can give you cancer and other bad diseases. The same can apply to cannabis with an extra reason being that it is illegal.

Avoid conflict and arguments

It is important to stay calm and keep the discussion open. Be encouraging and calm and let your child feel like your appreciate their point of view and concerns. Everyone should have a chance to say what they feel. If things start to get heated, perhaps come back to the conversation when everyone is calm again.