Research shows communication works...
The ultimate goal is to help your young children feel comfortable talking to you so when they become teenagers, they’ll be able to talk with you about “difficult” topics such as drugs, alcohol and smoking.
Parents are often concerned that their children will start (or are already) using drugs such as tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, and others – including the misuse of prescription drugs. Research supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) shows the important role that parents play in preventing drug use in their children.
Evidence-based information developed by the Child and Family center at the University of Oregon highlight parenting skills that are important in preventing the initiation and progression of drug use among youth.
Good Communication between parents and children is the foundation of strong family relationships. Developing good communication skills helps parents catch problems early, support positive behavior, and stay aware of what is happening in their children’s lives.
Still not sure how you can bring “drug talks” into your everyday conversation with your kids? Try these tips for opening the topic for discussion:
- “I was just at a presentation (read an article, saw something on TV, etc.) about Meth and it really scares me. What have you learned about it at school?”
- After seeing a reference to drugs or alcohol on TV (or in a billboard, commercial, movie, etc.), ask questions to help your child analyze the message. For example, ask “What do you think about how they are showing this character’s alcohol/drug use? Do you think that things like this really happen? What could possibly happen if someone made these choices in real life?
- Use the latest celebrity going into rehab to discuss the topic. For example, “What do you think of Demi Lovato’s recent addiction problems? Do you think people your age look up to her as a role model? What kind of message do you think other kids your age take from seeing so many celebrities getting involved with drugs or alcohol?
You may notice a couple of things about these conversation starters. First of all, they use everyday events to stimulate the conversation. Secondly, they involve asking questions and listening to your teen’s response. This encourages teens to think for themselves and make their own decisions not to use, rather than listening to someone lecture them again or tell them to “just say no.” It also helps to keep the lines of communication opens, which is so important if you want your teen to come to you with concerns related to drug or alcohol use.
Once you have the conversation started, how do you keep it going? Ask more questions. If you prefer, think of a few ahead of time, so you can have them ready. Learn a few facts that you can share with your teens or that you can use to correct any misinformation they may have. Here are a few to get you started:
- Using Meth to lose weight or “get an edge” in sports, is very risky since use can quickly escalate into addiction.
- Meth use is toxic to a developing body. Many physical and hormonal changes take place during adolescence, and the body can grow best without interference from chemicals.
- One frightening thing about Meth, is that users never know what they are getting. Meth is made from dangerous, often deadly chemicals. Its quality and purity varies, creating the chance for accidental overdose.
- When using Meth you might do something you will later regret. Meth use increases the risk of criminal actions, sexually transmitted diseases and teenage pregnancy.
Note- Use the quiz in the Parent Information Section to check your current level of communication.