No parent, child, or family is immune to the effects of drugs. Any kid can end up in trouble, even those who have made an effort to avoid it and even when they have been given the proper guidance from their parents.
Kids who have friends who use drugs are likely to try drugs themselves. Those feeling socially isolated for whatever reason may turn to drugs.
Starting the conversation about drugs with your child can seem like a very daunting task but it can also save their lives later on.
When should I start?
Role-playing can help your child develop strategies to turn down drugs if they are offered. Act out possible scenarios they may encounter. Helping them construct phrases and responses to say no prepares them to know how to respond before they are even in that situation.
A warm, open family environment — where kids can talk about their feelings, where their achievements are praised, and where their self-esteem is boosted will encourage kids to come forward with their questions and concerns. When censored in their own homes, kids go elsewhere to find support and answers to their most important questions.
Make talking and having conversations with your kids a regular part of your day. Finding time to do things you enjoy together as a family helps everyone stay connected and maintain open communication.
News, such as steroid use in professional sports, can be springboards for casual conversations about current events. Use these discussions to give your kids information about the risks of drugs.
3 Tips to Remember!
Set an example.
Most parents come home and after all the tasks are complete you may enjoy a glass of wine (or 2!) to unwind but you need to begin to set an example. Young people generally think in the “Monkey See, Monkey Do” mentality whereby if they see you doing something they then think it’s the new normal. Alcohol is a drug that kills more people worldwide than any other drug so try not to normalise alcohol if at all possible.
Wait until your child has gone to bed or is out of the room before unwinding with a drink. This will help facilitate your conversation when you approach the topic of alcohol and underage drinking and your child won’t be able to argue your points by stating things like ” Well you drink a glass every evening and that’s fine”.
“Mom/Dad! I smoked 2 joints with my friends today”
Your child has just come home and notified you of this. What is the first thought running through your mind right now? I’m sure it’s not a warm and welcoming embrace.
STOP – Clench your fist, turn around and come back in 5 mins.
You need to take a breather and gather your thoughts. The single worst thing you can do is immediately retaliate and start shouting. This will no solve anything and will shut that door of communication. Instead come back sit down and ask your child to explain what is going on – they will tell you. Show them that you are listening, seeing their point of view and then give them factual information. Assure them you are here to help.
You should explain how you care about them and their future. Teens who feel supported and loved are also more likely to stop experimenting with drugs or seek help if they have an addiction.
There is no shame in getting more help and there are a wide range of great and confidential resources available.
Peer pressure is something every young person will go through at some stage of their lives but a lot of the time your child may not want to participate but sees no way out. They don’t want to be branded as uncool or a loser by their peers but they also understand that what they are about to do is wrong.
Give them an escape!
Parents have played “the bad guy” for centuries so you will be well used to it. Pick a word that your child can text you at anytime and you will immediately know to call them and start telling them you want them home.
They will have to tell their friends that they must go, you look like the bad guy saving them the stress and embarrassment of saying no and your child is home safe and sound – everybody wins!
The key is to give your kids enough independence to develop as responsible, productive, independent members of society while retaining enough foresight to wisely shape their easily influenced decision-making skills.