Parents try to plan many conversations with their kids ahead of time. You might worry about how to tell them about bullying or puberty, and it’s hard to decide when the time is right to bring up tough topics. You don’t want your child to be so young that they don’t understand, but you also don’t want to inform them about things too late. Some conversations may change their lives, especially when it comes to addiction.
Read on to learn about how to talk to your child about substance abuse at any age. If you sit down with them now, you can prepare them for a safe and healthy life.
How to Talk to Your Child About Substance Abuse
1. Create a Safe Space
Kids may feel uncomfortable talking about drugs with their parents. They could be intimidated by the topic or feel like their older people are out of touch. It’s essential to create a safe space to talk about substance abuse so that your child feels like an equal during the conversation.
Watch your word choice so that you don’t come across as accusatory or belittling. Avoid negative body language, like crossing your arms or maintaining constant eye contact. Whatever you can do to make the situation more comfortable will help your child hear what you have to say.
2. Start Talking Early On
You may imagine older teens getting into drugs, but many times their experimentation begins in middle school. Studies show that kids as young as twelve use substances like marijuana, which could lead to harder drugs like cocaine in high school. Middle schoolers are at risk for exposure to addiction, just like high school students, so start talking about the consequences and realities early on.
3. Include More Information
When your child pictures people buying drugs, they may imagine back-alley dealers and shady individuals. However, substance abuse frequently starts with what kids find at home. If they get curious about prescription medication in the bathroom or over the counter cold medicine in the kitchen, they could start down the path of addiction. Kids must know this, especially since they may have more access to these items at home than out in public.
4. Discuss Their Future
Older kids about to go to college believe that the time to experiment is when they’re young and supposedly have less to lose. Even so, addiction can begin at any age, and the consequences can last well into adulthood. College can create addicts and substance abuse problems because of the freedom and peer pressure involved. Discuss how drug abuse will impact your child’s future and how it can quickly spiral out of control.
5. Be Their Resource
At the end of the conversation, remind your kids that you’re on their side — no matter what. If they ever have any questions or concerns, they can always come to you for help.
Don’t Hold Back When Talking to Your Child About Addiction
Parents shelter their kids from the world to protect them, but that doesn’t do anything to prevent substance abuse problems. Talk with your child about the realities of drug and alcohol abuse, the many gateways and how they can find help. If they feel respected, they’ll listen and take the lessons to heart.