Learn how to prevent drug abuse in children of all ages with these tips from Legacy Healing Center.
With illicit and addictive drugs so easily accessible in today’s world, many parents want to know the steps in preventing drug abuse in their children.
While sitting down with your child and having a heart-to-heart conversation can be one of the most powerful ways to influence their decisions and ideas on using drugs, you might be wondering how to start the conversation or what to say.
Drug abuse prevention can start at an early age and can provide many benefits, so let’s take a closer look at how to approach children in various age groups.
Children Ages 5 to 8 Years Old – Early Elementary School Age
You may notice that children who fall into this category are just beginning to learn about and express their individuality and independence. That being said, children of this age are typically still closely tied to their family and aim to please.
Start off your conversation by asking what messages they have heard about drugs through their friends, media, school, etc. Also, ask them how they feel about the things they have heard. This will give you a great starting point as you will be aware of what messages they have been subjected to and how they are reacting to these messages.
When speaking of using drugs or alcohol, focus on the present with this age group, and the concept of long-term consequences may be too complex for them to understand.
Explain how there are different types of drugs – drugs from a physician that may help with a medical problem, and also street drugs. Also, share how using street drugs or alcohol can have negative benefits and can hurt both them and the family.
Because they are exploring their independence at this age, you want to give your children power in expressing themselves and making decisions for themselves.
For example, if they are curious about the medication they see in your home, you can explain how the medication is prescribed to the person whose name is on the bottle and it is meant only for them, and can harmful to someone else. This could help them assert themselves later on if they find themselves in a predicament with another child offering them medication or drugs.
Pre-teens, Ages 9 to 12 Years Old – Middle School Age
If you have pre-teens, you know this is a stage of life where the input and opinions of friends usually overrule those of the parents. Pre-teens are also in the midst of finding where they fit in among their peers.
As this age group begins their middle-school experience, the reality is that they will most likely be offered drugs or surrounded by drugs at some point during their middle school experience.
Have an honest conversation about peer pressure and let your son or daughter know that they can bring any topic of conversation to you to discuss. Also, let me know they can use you as their scapegoat if another pre-teen is pressuring them.
For instance, your child can say, “My mom/dad would be very upset if I did that and would take away (insert a sport, item such as a cell phone/grounding, etc.)” as a consequence.
In addition to the above drug abuse prevention tips, recognize that pre-teens are typically becoming more interested in their appearance at this age.
Letting them know about the physical repercussions of using different substances such as scars and marks on the skin, losing teeth, cigarette breath, etc. can also sway their opinion.
Teenagers, Ages 13 to 18 – High School Age
Teenagers are just starting high school and beginning a completely new and exciting stage of life. Let them know that you are excited for them and how much you want them to enjoy these years.
Also, be upfront and transparent about drug and alcohol use and how they do not need to partake in these things to be liked by others or to enjoy their high school experience. Young men and women in this age group need realistic and detailed messages about drugs and what they can do to one’s body and life.
You will also want to stress to your teenager that they can always call you, day or night when they need you or they need to get out of a situation (and that you promise to not react negatively).
In addition, show interest in your child’s daily endeavors and challenges, spend time with them and their friends if possible, and foster an open environment where you are approachable and can be trusted with information.
While there isn’t one magic solution to preventing drug abuse, having conversations about it early on with children can positively influence their decisions about using substances in the future.
You can learn more drug abuse prevention tips at Legacy Healing Center or by calling us today at 888-597-3547.