It is never too early to start talking about Drugs and Alcohol with your kids especially your teens.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Talking to Your Teens about Drugs and Alcohol
I think most parents worry more about their kids when they start to become a little bit more independent and going off and doing things with friends. I remember a few weeks back when Colby asked to go to dinner and the movies with a group of friends, I said that he could go, but inside I was cringing… We had finally hit the age where he was going off on his own doing things without any adult supervision.
My mind started racing a million miles a minute wondering what he was doing and if he was being good and if he was “really at the movies.” Now, I will have to say that he has NEVER done anything for me to question if he was really there or not, he has ALWAYS been such a good kid. But I think every parent wonders and PRAYS that your child is minding their P’s and Q’s while they are gone.
I began to think about if I had taught him all that I could have and if I had done enough to influence him for good. I started to question if I had talked to him enough about the importance of staying away from drugs and alcohol. My parents taught me right from wrong and I still wasn’t always perfect, which made me worry even more. Now that I have a teenager, I understand why my parents had so many gray hairs by the time I was a teenager (I was 4/4).
Raising teenagers is no walk in the park that’s for sure , but we must do everything we can to protect our teens and one of the ways of protecting them is making sure they understand that drugs and alcohol are to be avoided at all costs, which to some might be the hardest conversation they might ever have with their kids, so we are here to provide some Do’s and Don’ts when it comes to talking to your teens about drugs and alcohol. By no means am I an expert, I am just sharing what has worked for us so far.
Here are the Do’s and Dont’s of Talking to Your Teens about Drugs and Alcohol
Do: Start young.
Do: Start with questions about what they know. Avoid yes and no questions. Ask them if they are aware of the different types of drugs and what the effects are. Ask them what their friends say about drugs or alcohol.
Do: Listen. If you listen to your child, they are more likely to listen to you.
Don’t: React harshly to what they share. Keep the doors open for talking. Establish a good relationship so they will come to you for help or with questions.
Do: Give them reasons to say no. Give them information that includes consequences. Tell them Immediate consequences as well as long-term consequences. Show pictures of how drugs and alcohol have changed people. Talk to them about how taking drugs can limit their ability to do the things they love.
Don’t: Forget to talk about prescription drugs as well as over the counter drugs because these are the most accessible drugs to any child because they are in all of our homes.
Do: Use real-life stories and pictures from the news/media to make your points.
Don’t: Share your own past experiences with drugs and alcohol.
Do: Help them create a plan for when they are in a pressured situation. Discuss scenarios and how they will handle them. Roleplay. Help them practice how they will turn their peers down. “My mom will kill me if I smoke.” or “No thanks, I don’t do drugs.”
Do: Model good behavior. Set a good example with your own actions regarding drugs and alcohol.
Don’t: Just talk once. Look for opportunities to talk about the importance of avoiding drugs and alcohol in everyday life.
Talking to your teens about drugs and alcohol is one of the most difficult conversations that you will ever have with your kids, but one of the most important conversations you will ever have because you never know, this conversation could save their life.
If you are looking for more help and guidance with your kids here are two great resources:
The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility: https://responsibility.org/
Partnership for Drug-Free Kids: http://www.drugfree.org/
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