Family Health

Talking to Your Child About Drugs: How to Start the Conversation

Oct 30 • 2017

As parents, it can be tough to know how—and when—to have a conversation with your children about how drugs can affect their lives. Check out our tips below to help you address this serious topic with your children sooner rather than later.

There’s No Such Thing as “Too Soon”

Many parents are unsure of when to start having the conversation with their children, but the truth is, there’s no such thing as starting too soon when it comes to encouraging healthy habits and leading by example. Preschool years are a great time to start talking about why being healthy is important and what things your family does to stay healthy, like eating right and being active. It’s also a great time to start encouraging your children to make their own healthy decisions, like picking lunch items or brushing their teeth before bed. During these conversations, you can begin to share what types of things are bad for your health. By using items your children identify as being off limits, like the medicine cabinet or items under the sink, this will lay the groundwork for later sharing the impact drugs can have on their health.

Encourage Honest, Open Conversation

As your children get older, allowing for open, honest conversation is the key. Show that you’re really listening to what they’re saying and any struggles they may have with peer pressure by asking directly how they feel about drugs. Starting this conversation in a nonjudgmental way will help your children feel comfortable sharing their thoughts with you both now and in the future. Answer questions without jumping to conclusions or turning the conversation—make it a learning experience.

Be Clear About Rules and Expectations

As the parent, it’s your responsibility to set clear rules around the household and explain to your children what your expectations are. Explain why drugs are off-limits and why you don’t want them to participate in those kinds of activities. It’s also important to make it clear that you do not want your children to spend time with people who are involved with drugs. Getting to know who your children hang out with, including parents, also can help you find peace of mind.

Don’t Rely on Fear

Lastly, don’t use fear as a motivator when talking with your kids about the impact of drugs. Overinflated stories and scare tactics can make the true consequences of taking drugs seem unrealistic. Instead, rely on facts. Share stories of people you know or celebrities and athletes your child follows to illustrate consequences in an accurate way. You may find your child is more receptive to this kind of information.

Still struggling to start the conversation or concerned that your child might be involved with drugs? Speak to your pediatrician today for personalized recommendations and resources you can use.