When is the “Right” Time to Talk to Your Kids about Drugs and Alcohol?

When is the “right” time to talk to your kids about drugs and alcohol? The answer is: as soon as they can carry on a conversation. Perhaps you are thinking that is too young but please read on and do research on your own as well.

From the age of 3 to about 5, you can have conversations about healthy living and importance of taking good care of our bodies and making healthy choices. From ages 5 to 8, move into discussions about healthy habits and unhealthy choices, and include the dangers of drug and alcohol misuse. Ages 8 to 10, have this conversation more often. Now, I know what you may be thinking. Does this discuss discussion “plant an idea” in their head or “make drugs forbidden and therefore more attractive”? No! Data tells us that, first of all, parents are the number one influencer in their kid’s lives! If kids know that their parents have a zero tolerance policy on drug abuse and underage drinking, they get it. Second, you must set the example. Kid’s see what adults are doing and hear what adults are saying, on the phone, to other adults, to other kids. Make sure your message is consistent! If children see mom and dad doing something illegal, that they have been told not to do, it sends a very mixed message. If kids are told marijuana is bad and illegal, they will definitely be confused if they find marijuana in the home or car, or see a family member smoking it.

Watch what they watch! Kids are bombarded with pro-drug messages on social media, on television and in the movies. If your kids are exposed to these messages and you are present, it is a great opportunity to point out that, it may be funny on TV, but drug addiction is not funny and death from drugs is no laughing matter. By the time kids are in 5th or 6th grade, they understand that there are drugs in their community or school. At this time you must set up clear rules about drugs and alcohol - and the consequences for breaking these rules and make sure your kids understand them. In addition, tell your kids how sad and scared you would be if they were to use drugs. Tell them how dangerous and deadly drugs can be. Tell them often that they can come to you at any time with any questions they may have.

Some kids believe that prescription drugs are safe and not deadly.

You must remind them to never accept any drugs or medicine from anyone else (unless you have an arrangement with the school nurse or caretaker) and teach them never to touch any drug they may see on a countertop, in a cabinet or on a bed side table. If you have prescription drugs in your home, keep them in a place where kids cannot get to them or purchase a lock box for them. In middle school and high school, ask your kids what they know about drugs and what drugs are available in their school, community or other places. If kids are already comfortable discussing this topic, they will respond. You may be surprised at how readily available drugs are to kids in middle and high school.

Raising drug-free kids is not impossible! With consistent messaging and opportunities for conversation, you can raise drug-free kids.

For more information about this subject, visit this link: http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/talk-about-drugs.html

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