With Kids About Alcohol and Drugs
The issue of
drugs can be very confusing to young children. If drugs are so
dangerous, then why is the family medicine cabinet full of them? And why
do TV, movies, music and advertising often make drug and alcohol use
look so cool?
We need to
help our kids to distinguish fact from fiction. And it's not too soon to
begin. National studies show that the average age when a child first
tries alcohol is 11; for marijuana, it's 12. And many kids start
becoming curious about these substances even sooner. So let's get
surveys reveal that when parents listen to their children's feelings and
concerns, their kids feel comfortable talking with them and are more
likely to stay drug-free.
play how to say "no"
ways in which your child can refuse to go along with his friends without
becoming a social outcast. Try something like this, "Let's play a
game. Suppose you and your friends are at Andy's house after school and
they find some beer in the refrigerator and ask you to join them in
drinking it. The rule in our family is that children are not allowed to
drink alcohol. So what could you say?"
child comes up with a good response, praise him. If he doesn't, offer a
few suggestions like, "No, thanks. Let's play with Sony PlayStation
instead," or "No thanks. I don't drink beer. I need to keep in
shape for basketball."
child plenty of opportunity to become a confident decision-maker. An
8-year-old is capable of deciding if she wants to invite lots of friends
to her birthday party or just a close pal or two. A 12-year-old can
choose whether she wants to go out for chorus or join the school band.
As your child becomes more skilled at making all kinds of good choices,
both you and she will feel more secure in her ability to make the right
decision concerning alcohol and drugs if and when the time arrives.
the information that you offer fits the child's age and stage. When your
6 or 7-year-old is brushing his teeth, you can say, "There are lots
of things we do to keep our bodies healthy, like brushing our teeth. But
there are also things we shouldn't do because they hurt our bodies, like
smoking or taking medicines when we are not sick."
If you are
watching TV with your 8 year-old and marijuana is mentioned on a
program, you can say, "Do you know what marijuana is? It's a bad
drug that can hurt your body." If your child has more questions,
answer them. If not, let it go. Short, simple comments said and repeated
often enough will get the message across.
offer your older child the same message, but add more drug-specific
information. For example, you might explain to your 12-year-old what
and crack looks
like, their street names and how they can
affect his body.
a clear family position on drugs
It's okay to
say, "We don't allow any drug use and children in this family are
not allowed to drink alcohol. The only time that you can take any drugs
is when the doctor or Mom or Dad gives you medicine when you're sick. We
made this rule because we love you very much and we know that drugs can
hurt your body and make you very sick; some may even kill you. Do you
have any questions?"
will do what you do much more readily than what you say. So try not to
reach for a beer the minute you come home after a tough day; it sends
the message that drinking is the best way to unwind. Offer dinner guests
non-alcoholic drinks in addition to wine and spirits. And take care not
to pop pills, even over-the-counter remedies, indiscriminately. Your
behavior needs to reflect your beliefs.
what makes a good friend
pressure is so important when it comes to kids' involvement with drugs
and alcohol, it makes good sense to talk with your children about what
makes a good friend. To an 8-year-old you might say, "A good friend
is someone who enjoys the same games and activities that you do and who
is fun to be around." 11 to 12-year-olds can understand that a
friend is someone who shares their values and experiences, respects
their decisions and listens to their feelings. Once you've gotten these
concepts across, your children will understand that "friends"
who pressure them to drink or smoke pot aren't friends at all.
Additionally, encouraging skills like sharing and cooperation -- and
strong involvement in fun, healthful activities (such as team sports or
scouting) -- will help your children make and maintain good friendships
as they mature and increase the chance that they'll remain drug-free.
feel good about themselves are much less likely than other kids to turn
to illegal substances to get high.
we can do many things to enhance our children's self-image. Here are
lots of praise for any job well done.
you need to criticize your child, talk about the action, not the
person. If your son gets a math problem
wrong, it's better to say, "I think you added wrong. Let's try
do-able chores. A 6-year-old can bring
her plate over to the sink after dinner; a 12-year-old can feed and
walk the dog after school. Performing such duties and being praised
for them helps your child feel good about himself.
one-on-one time with your youngster.
Setting aside at least 15 uninterrupted minutes per child per day to
talk, play a game, or take a walk together, lets her know you care.
"I love you." Nothing will make your child feel better.
and lessons about drugs are important enough to repeat frequently. So be
sure to answer your children's questions as often as they ask them to
initiate conversation whenever the opportunity arises.
you suspect a problem, seek help
under age 12 rarely develop a substance problem, it can -- and does --
happen. If your child becomes withdrawn, loses weight, starts doing
poorly in school, turns extremely moody, has glassy eyes -- or if the
drugs in your medicine cabinet seem to be disappearing too quickly --
talk with your child and reach out to any one of the organizations
listed here. You'll be helping your youngster to a healthier, happier
do people take bad or illegal drugs?
lots of reasons. Maybe they don't know how dangerous they are. Or maybe
they feel bad about themselves or don't know how to handle their
problems. Or maybe they don't have parents they can talk to. Why do you
think they do it?
are some drugs good and some drugs bad for you?
When you get
sick, the drugs the doctor gives you will help you get better. But if
you take these drugs when you're healthy, they can make you sick. Also,
there are some drugs, like marijuana or crack, that are never good for
you. To be safe, never ever take any drugs unless Mom, Dad or the doctor
says it's okay.