Kids are often hesitant to talk with their parents about serious topics such as drugs and alcohol, but sometimes you have to just bite the bullet and start the discussion. Keeping the lines of communication open about these issues will help your child say no, especially when she is too young. Start the conversation when your child is at a young age so that she knows your values when it comes to drugs and alcohol and what type of behavior you expect from her.
Be a Role Model
Model good behavior yourself. Nothing that you say to your child about drugs and alcohol will make a difference if you abuse substances yourself. Try to quit smoking if you’re a smoker and avoid illegal drugs, especially in front of your child. If you drink alcohol, you should do so responsibly, never getting drunk or driving after you’ve been drinking.
Ask your child what he thinks about drugs and alcohol. This is a good way to start a conversation. It makes it a conversation rather than a lecture. Your child may say that he’s curious, that he doesn’t like when others use them or that he’s tried it. Remain calm during this conversation, even if he tells you something that you don’t want to hear.
Remind your child of the dangers of using drugs and alcohol. Statistics about deaths from drunken driving or from drug use could help her to make a decision to not use drugs.
Make a Contract
Sign a contract with your child to say that you will help at any time. It’s important for your child to know that you will pick him up if he is ever nervous about getting in the car with someone who has been drinking or using drugs. Make sure that this contract stands true even if it’s 3 a.m. or if he has been drinking himself.
Use the Media
Use the media to bring up the issue of drugs and alcohol. Every time you see a news story about a drunken-driving accident or see a movie that involves drug use, you can use that to continue the discussion of drugs and alcohol with your child.
Mention Legal Drugs, Too
Teach your child that even legal drugs aren’t a great idea. In some cases, the fact that drugs such as alcohol and tobacco are legal–though there are age restrictions–makes them seem tame. This can make legal drugs more dangerous than some illegal drugs.
Telling Your Child About Your Past
Avoid glorifying drug and alcohol use in your past. If you are telling your child stories about the crazy things you did when you were young and drunk, he may be more curious about trying alcohol or drugs himself.