Why talk to my child about Substance Use?
One of the most influential factors during a child’s adolescence is maintaining a strong, open relationship with a parent or grandparent. When parental figures create a supportive and nurturing environment, children make better decisions. Though it may not always seem like it, children really hear their parents’ concerns, which is why it’s important that parents discuss the risks of using alcohol and other drugs.
If you talk to your kids directly and honestly, they are more likely to respect your rules and advice about alcohol and drug use. When parents talk with their children early and often about alcohol and other drugs, they can help protect their children from many of the high-risk behaviors associated with using these drugs.
Answering your Child’s Tough Questions
As your child becomes curious about alcohol and other drugs, he or she may turn to you for answers and advice. Use this opportunity to start an open, honest conversation about drinking and drug use, and to outline the behavior you expect. Peer pressure can be powerful among youth and having a plan to avoid underage drinking and drug use can help children make smart choices. Because some questions can be difficult to answer, it is important to be prepared.
Why Small Conversations make a Big Impression
Short, frequent discussions can have a real impact on your child’s decisions about alcohol and drug use.
Sitting down for the “big talk” about substance use can be intimidating for both you and your child. Try using everyday opportunities to talk— in the car, during dinner, or while you and your child are watching TV. Having lots of little talks takes the pressure off trying to get all of the information out in one lengthy discussion, and your child will be less likely to tune you out.
5 Conversation Goals
Research suggests that one of the most important factors in healthy child development is a strong, open relationship with a parent. It is important to start talking to your children about alcohol and other drugs before they are exposed to them—as early as 9 years old.
- Show you disapprove of underage drinking and other drug misuse.
- Show you care about your child’s health, wellness, and success.
- Show you’re a good source of information about alcohol and other drugs.
- Show you’re paying attention and you’ll discourage risky behaviors.
- Build your child’s skills and strategies for avoiding drinking and drug use.