Talking to your Child about Staying Alcohol and Drug-Free

Picture the child you love being offered alcohol or drugs for the first time. Do they know how to say no? Are they prepared with their answer? Have you equipped them with the knowledge of why they should resist? Or, will they have no idea how to respond?

mother and daughter

Having the Conversation with Your Child

Many parents shy away from this important topic, which could be detrimental to their child’s ability to say no when the time comes. Reasons parents don’t talk with their children about staying away from drugs and alcohol vary. Some parents don’t think they should breach the subject while their child is still young. Others believe exposure to drugs and alcohol just won’t happen to their child, and many parents simply don’t know what to say. Some parents also fear the questions their child may ask. These reasons shouldn’t keep you from potentially saving your child from a battle with addiction.

While the conversation may be uncomfortable, research continually shows the more you talk to your child about addiction and its consequences, the better the chance of success is in keeping them alcohol- and drug-free. Although the initial conversation may be awkward for you, it likely won’t be for your child because they don’t have as much knowledge on the subject or existing opinions yet.

Start Young

You might not feel like it’s necessary to start the addiction conversation at such a young age, but it’s actually smart to begin talking about the dangers of drugs and alcohol while your child is still young. Then, continue to talk, intensifying the message as they get older. Practicing the conversation now will help you feel more comfortable discussing this topic in their teen years because you have established an open dialogue from the get-go.

While you want the conversation to be a discussion, rather than a lecture, don’t be concerned if your child doesn’t have much input in the beginning. Trust that their interest will pique eventually, and you’ll be grateful you laid the groundwork for comfortable communication.

Jen Singer, founder of MommaSaid.net, shares some tips for cultivating a responsible, healthy child. She explains a few things to teach your child from a young age, like allowing them to say no if they don’t want to do something, or having them make simple decisions like what to wear, or letting them learn how to entertain themselves when bored.  She believes these skills will help teach children how to make the right decisions when temptation comes around.

What Best Describes Your Child?

father and daughter

Consider your child and the best way they will respond to the topic. If they are more sensitive, don’t throw consequences and numbers at them. If your child is more logical, don’t just tell them a sad story. Balance the facts with emotions to reach your child personally and most effectively.

Below are some helpful thoughts and ideas for talking to your child.

Emotional?

  • Stories are a wonderful way to capture your child’s attention. Tell them a story about someone who became addicted to drugs and alcohol. It doesn’t have to be terrifying, just make sure it tells them how addiction negatively affected someone’s life.

Logical?

  • Explain how becoming addicted to drugs and alcohol can affect their ability to do fun things, like solve a puzzle or play basketball outside. Don’t focus on future consequences, but stay in the present for the time being.

No matter how you talk to your child about drugs and alcohol, clearly tell them that you don’t want them to ever use drugs or alcohol. Your children should have no doubt in their minds regarding your feelings about drugs and alcohol.

While school leaders, counselors, church ministers, and other authority figures may be having this discussion with your child, it’s still extremely important for you, as the parent, to have these talks.

Read more reasons for the importance of talking your child about drugs and alcohol.