From a young age, children’s eyes are open. They are aware of much—the good and the bad. Sadly, they begin to see lying, hurtful behavior, fighting, yelling, and more. We do not live in a perfect world, and neither do our children.
Whether or not our own family members or friends are struggling with addiction, it is important that we talk to and educate our children on addiction and drug abuse. They will see it eventually, and as parents, role models, guardians, etc., it is our job to make sure that they are aware of the dangers.
Here are some simple guidelines to follow when talking to your children about drug abuse:
We all love and hate the stage when children start to ask a lot of questions. “What is that? Why is it called that? What does it do?” Some children may start to ask these questions over and over as they realize how much the world has to offer. It depends on the maturity of your child, and what they are exposed to, but it is never too early. You simply have to adjust how much you tell your child. You could simply tell your 10-year-old, that sometimes people do things that they are not supposed to. You could use cigarettes as an example, and explain to your child that they hurt your body, yet many people still use it. Tell your child that if they are offered something that they are not familiar with, they should politely decline it and then talk to you about it after. Your child needs to understand the boundary between safe and unknown. Make it clear.
As adults, it’s easy to feel like you completely understand the world, especially in comparison to a young child who is just starting to learn. Nonetheless, it takes listening to understand a person, no matter how much knowledge or understanding you may have already. Listen to your children so that you can know what is going on in their life. If you don’t listen, they may stop talking.
When children become teenagers, they understand that certain things must not be done. There are rules and consequences. Talk to your child to make sure they understand your house rules. Set limits and consequences.
Be affirmative, yet warm.
Don’t let your child doubt your love. Inform your child that you set rules because you care and want them to be safe. Let your rules be a firm discussion, something that becomes a bonding point, not something to fight over. You want your rules to be something you both agree on, so that you can proudly watch as your child follows them. If rules are broken, continue to be supportive and loving as you enforce the consequences.
Remember that it is a young child’s questions that start discussion. You need to allow the child to grow up, continually asking questions and trusting you. You want that trust, but really, you need that trust to be there when they may be more consistently exposed to drugs.
Lastly, do not forget to parent individually. If you have multiple children, each child may require a different approach to addiction education. Be aware of the differences, and ready to make a game plan so that you and your child/children will be ready to say no to drug abuse.
If your child asks about recovering from drug addiction, take a look at our website. You can learn how we help people recover from addiction and alcohol abuse.