Tuesday, March 7, 2017
Talking To Your Child About Drugs and Alcohol
There are many hard conversations we will have to have with our children. Perhaps one of the most important is talking to them about drugs and alcohol. Research shows that one of the best ways to protect our children is to talk to them. Talking to our children will help open the needed doors now and in the future.
I was a teen parent and decided that I would always protect my babies. For the most part this worked but there were stumbling blocks along the way. With six children I was led into worlds that I never thought I would. World of trouble in drugs, alcohol, and even the law. Now as a grand-parent with a bit of experience I am ready to face the world armed with more information. Are you ready to face the world with your children??
One fact that may surprise you is that more than 24.6 million people in the U.S. are addicted to drugs and or alcohol. With that in mind think about this about one in every ten Americans over the age of twelve is addicted to drugs or alcohol. When I was around 12 years old I can recall a young friend of mine bringing his thermos to school. No big deal that was until one of the teachers learned that there was alcohol in that thermos. Wow!! My parents did not drink or neither did many of the adults I knew so for a classmate to do this gave him both and appearance of being bad and well very popular as well. But to think about this as an adult makes me wonder did anyone talk to him about that decision??
When parents have that talk with their kids and set clear rules about no drugs or alcohol are more aware of what their kids are doing and in return their children do not get into drugs or alcohol. Parents also need to set a good example and not do drugs their selves. My parents did not talk to me about drugs or alcohol an I sort of just found my way. I believe my parents did not have this conversation because they did not know what to say and / or did not want to consider their children making choices that they did not approve of. Conversations about drugs and alcohol needs to start as early as elementary years.
When you have this conversation make sure you make your child aware of the fact that you do not want them to consider doing drugs or alcohol. It is your rule that they are not something to try .... ever. Ensure that they understand this without any questions. Your child should also understand if they need to talk more about this subject or have questions make sure that they understand that.
Take some time with your child to learn together the harmful effects that drugs and alcohol have on their brains and bodies. Effects that will leave them unable to play sports or learn. The thing to do is to say "No" make sure that you have your child understand this. Role playing may even be something you want to do act out different scenarios. Teach them that real friends do not put them in situations that they have to choose between saying "No" and their friendship.
During your conversation the question of have you ever?? may come up. Either way your child asking you or you asking your child. The best way to show your child that you do not do drugs is to not do drugs. Allow them to see you set an example. Signs that you may watch for if you suspect your child may be taking drugs or drinking include both behavior and physical changes. Behavior changes include changes in mood, sleeping, eating, friendships and school performance. Physical signs your child may be using drugs or alcohol include having blood shot eyes, losing or gaining weight, tremors and smelling like smoke or wearing heavy perfume to cover it.
Now that you know why you should have that talk how do you do it. It is important that you do not overwhelm your child with fear tactics or gory details. It is important that you explain to your child that drugs and alcohol are harmful. Offer them some information on what they may be offered and what may happen if they try it.
As I said earlier your child should be old enough to understand. Around the fourth grade is an awesome time to have this conversation. The older they are the less they will want to listen.
It is important to talk to your child naturally. They will be able to tell a forced or rehearsed conversation from one that comes from the heart. It should not be a lecture. They should be allowed to ask questions there are no silly questions. To ask questions they had to have first listened to what you said.