This is the tough part. No one can do this for you. And there's no script for it. But, you have to start somewhere. Here are a few things to keep in mind when talking with your teenage child about drugs:
- Think first. Act second.
How often have we acted on impulse and regretted it? The same is true
for speaking with your children about drugs. Having a sound mind
before approaching children will help keep a balance between what
you're thinking and what you're saying about drugs to your kids.
- Get in the habit.
Develop the habit of talking regularly with your child on a variety
of subjects. This will greatly facilitate the discussion on the issue
of drug use when the time comes.
- Just the Facts.
Everyone can get emotional around this issue. Some feelings are
important but using facts can help keep the focus on the issue, while
judgment can lead to misconstrued feelings and spiral the conversation
downward toward unproductive ends.
- Be clear and focused
You may not be listened to not because of what you're saying, but
what your teenager thinks your motivation is for saying it. Keep
focused and balanced, and this should steer the conversation in the
right place. Staying well tuned in to your motivations and aligning your
actions with children accordingly demonstrates a consistent personality
that will help the message resonate.
- Be inclusive.
Reassure your child that you want them to decide for themselves
and be independent (that's what teens want, really), but that you're
simply trying to help them make an informed decision by providing
them with information from a valuable source...you.
- Use the News.
You can use an external reference like a newspaper article or tv
show about drugs to start a conversation with your teenage child.
Talking about an external situation can help you discuss the issue
of drugs without your teen feeling like you are accusing him or her of
Teenagers will often test boundaries and at times may try to get
control of situations. It's best to try to engage your teen in dialogue
on drugs by respecting his or her preferences about when to talk. So, spin
the tables around by mentioning that you'd like to talk about drugs with
them and let them decide what works for them. By allowing them the control
to pick the time, date and location, this also shows respect for their schedule,
which will make them feel important.
- Constant praise.
Rewarding positive behaviour, unexpected praise, showing respect
and demonstrating interest in their lives will make you more approachable
when they are running into difficulties and need someone to talk
to about their problems.
- Consistent boundaries.
The tried and tested parenting method of setting boundaries is
crucial when it comes to drugs. The lines must be clear, enforced
and consistent for teens so they can understand the difference between
right and wrong. Once boundaries are established, they must continually
be repeated, and therefore easier to hold teenagers accountable when the
boundary is broken. Talk to your teen about your rules around curfews,
choice of friends, and knowing where they are at all times and develop
appropriate boundaries together.
- Evaluate the Dialogue.
After all that, how did it go?
The goal of any conversation is to feel as though an exchange of
ideas and thoughts has happened. Did it? Were you doing most of the talking
or did they? Remember, if you tell them, they might forget, if you show
them they might remember, but if you involve them, they'll understand.
Give them room to engage and encourage them to participate by asking the
Read or order the Tool Kit: Talking with Your Teen about Drugs
The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health lists 10 tips for talking to your kids about substance use.