Kids are some of the most curious humans around. They soak up knowledge like a sponge, but it only seems to leave them thirsting for more. It’s an amazing thing, really, but all the questions can weigh heavy on parents. After you’ve answered “why?” for the hundredth time, you may not be up for a question about drugs or alcohol. But there are some very compelling reasons to answer that question anyway.
Associations start early
Believe it or not, your child’s relationship with drugs and alcohol begins much younger than high school. Kids will learn about drugs, alcohol and even addiction from various sources. One of them should be you, and those lessons should be intentional.
Here are a few ways your child can learn about drugs and alcohol:
- By example – When you have a glass or two of wine, your kids are watching. They’re not judging. They’re just looking to you for cues on what’s normal. A glass or two of wine isn’t a problem. But if you do have a problem with alcohol, your kids are likely to develop that habit too. In fact, they are four times more likely to develop alcoholism, according to the National Association for the Children of Alcoholics.
- Through television and media – If you fail to have the drug and alcohol conversations with your kids, they’ll get most of their information from television and music. And unfortunately, these mediums often glorify drug and alcohol abuse.
- At school – If you’re lucky, your child’s first introduction to drugs and alcohol in school will be through an awareness campaign like D.A.R.E. At school, kids are also likely to learn about drugs through their friends and peers.
You can shape the narrative
When your kids ask you questions about drugs and alcohol, they’re trying to understand why these things are a part of our society. They want to know about the appeal and how things go wrong. This is a great time to teach your kids about how people get hooked on substances of abuse. It’s also a great time to show them what this can do to a person’s life.
If you can explain these things before your child is pressured to take drugs, he or she will be more likely to abstain.
When discussing this topic, you should definitely keep it age appropriate, but don’t shy away from the talk because you think your child is too young.
How to talk to kids about drugs and alcohol
If your kids ask you questions about addiction, answer them as honestly as you can. And if you’re caught off-guard, don’t worry. You can always gather some facts and approach the topic again later. Facts are a crucial component of these talks because they’ll help your kids see you as an authority. Share everything you can, so your kids don’t fall for the myths that will make them more likely to use drugs.
Your kids will start asking about drugs and alcohol shortly after they can speak full sentences. They may ask about the beverage you’re drinking or the medicine you’re giving them. Look at these moments as opportunities to teach them about moderation and responsibility.
As your children get older, you can build on the foundation you’ve already set by sharing things like how alcohol affects your brain chemistry or why we’re in a drug epidemic.
If you want your children to develop a healthy attitude towards drugs and alcohol, it’s important to take time to answer their questions. Their questions will change as they age, but your commitment to answering them should remain steadfast.
About The Author:
Rachel is a freelance content writer located in San Diego, California currently writing for Medically Assisted. Over the course of her career, she has written a variety of health, parenting, and fitness articles. In her free time, she enjoys running along the beach with her two puppies and practicing yoga.