For example, did you know that nationwide, 32.2 percent of children have drunk their first alcoholic drink before they were 13 years old. 11.3 percent of students have had their first experience with marijuana prior to the age of 13. Eighty-one percent of students have had more than one drink of alcohol in their lifetime. The numbers continue to show that middle school children on up are highly exposed to drugs and alcohol. Yet, the fact is, these are difficult subjects to talk with a child. How will you find the right words to say to show your child that drugs and alcohol are catastrophic to their life?
Start At A Young Age
Most of the statistic show that children are first exposed to smoking, drugs and alcohol at a young age, usually during middle school. It can happen sooner than this, too. The key is to start talking to your child as soon as you can. This often requires talking to your child by the time they are ten about what alcohol and drugs are and why they are bad. When you do bring up the subject, there are a few tips that can help you through it.
- Talk to them, don't threaten or berate them. Children are willing to listen to you and learn from you, especially if they are young. If you explain to them what is bad they will be more receptive.
- Realize that school may have already brought the subject up, but you may not know what they have said. Talk to your child about what they have heard or learned in school.
- Let them ask questions. Be open and responsive about the questions they have. Answering them will help your child to realize that drugs and alcohol really are a bad thing.
- Teach your children about peer pressure. Tell them they will get asked. Teach them what to do in a realistic form. If you tell them to just say no, they may not know how to keep up the act.
- Do some role playing. You be the one offering the drugs while children are playing themselves. Try to be insistent so that they know how to get out of the worst situations.
Keep It Up
Although you have planted the seed at a young age, you will need to continue talking with your child about alcohol and drugs throughout their life. This process does not slow over time either. As teens, they will need reminding of how to back out of situations. You will need to explain to them, at this point, why drugs hurt and what they can do to you. You may want to sit down with them and watch a documentary on television. On the other hand, you may want to tell them personal stories about your experiences.
Relating to older children is important. Most just want to do the right thing but may be unsure of why the wrong thing is that bad. As a parent you will need to also learn to spot the signs of drug and alcohol abuse. If you smell cigarettes, don't let it pass believing it was the other child. If you don't know why their eyes are bloodshot or they are always tired ask. Children that stop doing things that they once enjoyed doing may be experiencing some signs of drug use.
Whenever you find yourself facing the question of "is my child doing drugs or drinking alcohol" step back and hold back. Think about the right away to approach them. Physicians warn that if parents plan a steady role, a reassuring role and one of concern, they will get the answers they need. If they play the role of a dictator, children are more likely to go into the problem further.
Drugs and alcohol are some of the most difficult of subjects to talk with a child about. By bringing them up early and really staying on top of them, you and your child can find yourself in a much safer place. Keeping your child safe is worth a few talks and it can help improve your relationship with them, too.