Parents have the valuable opportunity of helping their children learn healthy viewpoints. By being able to discuss drugs honestly, parents can help keep their children from making poor decisions in the future. Instead of having one serious “drug talk,” it is better for parents to occasionally bring up the subject in an age-appropriate manner. This helps gradually educate children without overwhelming or confusing them. When talking about drugs with very young children, follow these tips.
Establish the Importance of Only Taking Medications As Needed
When a child encounters vitamins or medications, it is a great opportunity to bring up the idea of only taking drugs for healthcare reasons. Explain that medicine affects the body, so it should only be taken when a person is sick or needs a certain nutrient. Emphasize the importance of only taking medicine if a parent or a doctor advises it.
Work on Healthy Decision Making Skills
At first glance, this might not seem directly related to drugs. However, it actually has a huge impact on how a child may react to potentially taking drugs later on. At an early age, encourage children to make decisions for themselves. Teach them how to weigh the benefits and advantages of any potential decision, and help them learn how to avoid making decisions based on emotion or peer pressure.
Avoid Making Drugs Seem Interesting or Exciting
It is important to keep children from getting the idea that drugs and alcohol are cool, grown-up, or mysterious. At an early age, parents can help foster healthier attitudes towards drugs. They should avoid suggesting that things like alcohol or cigarettes are fun or stress-relieving. If children have questions, parents should answer honestly instead of refusing to discuss the subject.
Focus on Immediate Dangers of Drug Usage
For most children, the idea of long term consequences is hard to process. Therefore, talking about drug usage in their teens or discussing long term health problems associated with drug usage may feel irrelevant to a child. Instead, try to emphasize the damage drugs will do now to a child’s developing brain and body. When a child asks about drugs, emphasize why the child should not take them right now.