Children are bombarded by images of foreign substances almost every day as they watch videos, play games, converse with friends, or visit neighborhood shops. Whether it is tobacco, alcohol, or drugs, the temptation to “try” the substance just once or twice is something that can have a major and life-changing impact on your child.
Although it is easy to believe you trust your child’s ability to say no to the foreign substances, it may not be that simple. Yes, parents have a key influence on how a child will react to someone that approaches them with a drug, but the ultimate responsibility for your child’s response rests solely with him or her.
Here are some ways you can help strengthen your child’s resolve to avoid all substance abuse.
The world of drug wars has changed focus in recent years. Lately, there have been reports of vape pens being handed out at elementary schools, marijuana brownies being served at children’s birthday parties, and alcohol being offered to pre-teens at overnight celebrations. If you are like most adults, the thought of your innocent child being tempted with a substance that they can’t even begin to understand at such a young age riles you, and you aren’t alone.
The problem is that when one abuse monger is arrested, another pops up in his or her place, and substance abuse education K-12 can’t be left to the schools. So how can you fight back? Talk about all the possibilities with your child as soon as you are comfortable. You may not believe it, but first and second graders are now in need of protection from those that would entice him or her into a world of substance abuse.
A child that comes from a home where his or her parents are substance abusers is more prone to abuse substances. That is why it is important to understand how powerful a parent’s example is in the life of a child. If you drink, don’t come home drunk – your child will understand you were DUI.
If you do drugs, let your child know why you do and how you came into the situation. Helping your child set personal rules for his or her life regarding foreign substances can help him or her avoid situations where he or she can be pressured into beginning a lifetime of spiraling out of control.
Before you begin discussing the problems of substance abuse with your child, you need to find out the current facts. Why is marijuana legal? Who can drink alcohol? How does substance abuse alter the body? Can someone do drugs and play sports? The more information you have, the more data you can convey to your child about the dangers of using substances and how they can alter his or her growing body. Make sure the information you read is up-to-date and filled with details you can discuss easily at your child’s age.
It is always a good idea to write down facts and figures and let your child read the data so that it sticks a little easier in his or her mind.
Discussing the possibility of substance abuse may come very naturally for some parents, but it may be very difficult for others. Start by moving to a neutral location and letting your child know you want to discuss something with them that isn’t easy to talk about. Then begin laying out the facts you have discovered.
Also, make sure if your child asks a question about drugs you don’t have an answer to, make sure you don’t lie to him or her or make up an answer. If your child believes you lied about one part of the conversation, he or she may conclude you lied about everything you discussed – and that could be devastating.
Children have many influences from different sources in their lives, but most believe home is a safe haven filled with truth and love. Although some children may hit a rebellious patch or become hormonally angry for a few months, if your child understands your love for them is unconditional, they can weather the storm.
That is why it is important for you to help them counter the cultural beliefs that “everyone drinks,” “you have to try it once to know what the substance is about,” or “you have to get into the flow with a drink or two.” The truth is what your child believes it is, so help him or her develop a belief system that he or she can use as protection.
One discussion is never enough – but talking about substance abuse too often can push your child in that direction. That is why it is important to let your child know he or she can always come and talk to you about anything that is bothering him or her. You should also watch for altered behavior in your child’s actions that may indicate the use of a foreign substance.
Confrontation is not the best option for the discovery of abuse, so talking about possibilities and asking if your child has ever tried certain substances can lead to an honest conversation. If your child has a substance abuse problem, one of the best things you can do is learn about parenting while in alcohol recovery program.
Children are precious, and no matter what difficulties life throws into their paths, you can be there to help them weather the storms. All you have to do is take the first step and learn how to discuss substance abuse with your little one. You won’t regret it.