by Felicia Lowe
With drug and alcohol addiction being a problem in communities around the world, it is important to educate children on the dangers of abuse. When children are not educated on the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse, they are at a greater risk of experimenting with drugs and engaging in other unsafe behaviors. When parents themselves are educated on the effects of drug and alcohol use, they are able to give children correct information and clear up any misinformation. Parents and educators act as role models for children and their views can greatly influence how children think about things.
Tips for Speaking to Younger Children
Parents should begin speaking to kids about the dangers of drugs as young as preschool age. This does not need to be complicated discussion, rather, teachable moments should be taken advantage of. For instance, if a child sees someone smoking on television, parents can take the opportunity to speak to children in simple terms about how such behaviors can cause harm. The tone of the discussion should be kept calm and simple terms should be used when speaking with younger children.
As kids begin to get older, parents and educators can begin having talks with kids about drugs and alcohol. Children can be engaged by asking them open-ended questions in a nonjudgmental manner. Speaking to kids in a nonjudgmental way makes it more likely that they will respond to questions honestly. When parents openly speak with children between the ages of eight and twelve, it helps to keep the door open for dialogue when they enter their teen years. For children of this age, it may be helpful to reference current events in conversation and use these talks to inform kids about the risks of drug and alcohol abuse.
Talking to Teens About Drug and Alcohol Abuse
Once kids enter their teen years, the odds increase that they will know other kids who have experimented with drugs or alcohol. If teens feel comfortable speaking to parents, they may be willing to share their thoughts and ask specific questions about drug and alcohol use. Teens can understand the dangers of driving under the influence and the consequences of using drugs and alcohol, including jail time. These things should all be discussed with them. It can be helpful to create a contract with rules about going out or driving so that teens know exactly what behavior is expected of them.
No one is completely immune to the effects of drugs and alcohol. Even kids who have been given the proper guidance by parents can end up in trouble. Certain groups of kids, however, may be more likely to use drugs or alcohol than others. Children who have friends who use drugs or alcohol may be more likely to try it themselves. Kids who feel socially isolated may also be more likely to try drugs. To prevent kids from experimenting with drugs, parents need to be involved in children’s lives. Parents should know who their children hang around with and should even make an effort to get to know the parents of these children. When parents are involved, they are more likely to be able to identify when kids are dealing with difficult situations and can lend more support.
While parents often play the biggest role in keeping kids from using drugs and alcohol, educators can be equally important. Many schools run anti-drug programs that aim to inform kids about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse. Parents can even go so far as to get involved with the school and any such programs. When parents are involved in kids lives and are willing to educate themselves in order to better educate their children, the chances of children trying drugs or alcohol can be greatly decreased.
Additional Information on Speaking to Children About Drugs and Alcohol
- Talking to Your Child About Drugs
- National Institute on Drug Abuse – Parents and Educators
- Talking With Your Kids About Drugs and Alcohol
- NCPC Elementary Drug Prevention
- Drug Abuse – Getting it Straight
- Talking to Your Child About Drugs
- 8 Ways to Talk With Your Teen About Drugs and Alcohol
- The Drug Talk – Tops for Today’s Parents
- How to Talk to Your Kids About Drugs
- Talking With Kids About Drugs