Talking to your kids about drugs and alcohol is no easy task. But as a parent, it is your responsibility to discuss difficult topics with your kids about drugs and alcohol to prepare them for the real world. Here are five tips to help that talk go smoothly.
1. Start early
You should talk to your kids as early as possible about drug and alcohol use. There’s no such thing as “too young” because, even if you manage to shelter your child from substance abuse within your own community, our media is saturated with images of people drinking and using drugs. If your child watches TV, goes to the movies, or plays games on the Internet, chances are they will be exposed. Once you accept this, you can begin to engage with them. Talk at a level that is appropriate for their age, and let them ask questions.
2. Teach them to say “no.”
“Just say no” has become a cliche over the years, but all cliches are grounded in truth. The earlier you teach your children to stand up for themselves and resist peer pressure, the easier it will be for them to do so when they enter their preteen and teenage years, a time when drug experimentation becomes more prevalent.
3. Teach them how to process pain
Life can be painful, and although children sometimes use drugs and alcohol simply to gain acceptance from their peers, these substances can also offer them momentary relief from the internal problems and fears they’re struggling with. It is vital that you maintain an open dialogue with your children about whatever problems, fears, or pain they’re going through. Let them know that everyone experiences fear and adversity, and they don’t have to face their problems alone. Share tools that you’ve found helpful in processing pain, whether it’s art, exercise, meditation, etc.
4. Be approachable
When you’re discussing drug and alcohol abuse with your children, don’t let your emotions get the best of you. If your children have challenging thoughts or opinions on this subject, try not to jump to conclusions about their behavior or shout at them. If you react emotionally, you’ll shut down communication between you and them, and that’s the last thing you want. Listen to them without judgment and respond calmly but purposefully. Provide them with hard facts about the impact these substances can have on their bodies.
5. Lead by example
Children learn by example, and since you’re their parent, you’re their most influential role model. If you tell your kids not to drink alcohol or use drugs, all the while doing both, you lose all credibility. Never drink in excess around them, and definitely never use any drugs you don’t want them using.
It’s important that us as parents talk to our kids about drugs and alcohol. The problem is only getting worse, and there is no way to keep it out away from it 100%, which is why talking to kids about drugs and alchol is so important. Knowledge is power, give them knowledge and talk to your kids about drugs and alcohol.
This article was written by Dixie Somers and coauthored by Michael Myles. If you, your child, or someone you know is facing addiction to drugs or alcohol, check out