Is it ever too early to start talking to your kids about drug use? Many parents like to wait until kids are older to talk about what they consider sensitive subjects, but the truth is that children are becoming addicted to drugs before they’re even teenagers. Laying a good foundation and having honest conversations beginning at a young age could cut the problem off at the pass.
You might think kids in preschool or kindergarten are too young to under drugs, but you can make anything a teaching opportunity. If your child is taking medication for a cold, for example, you can explain the difference between safe medications and unsafe ones, and about dosing. You don’t have to get too technical, but saying that you buy these drugs from the store and they’re safe as long as you follow the directions can help them understand.
You can also point out dangerous substances around the house. Explain that a lot of dangerous things – bleach and other cleaners, for example, come with warnings that they should always pay attention to. Make it clear, however, that not everything dangerous comes with a warning label.
Let them start making some decisions on their own. It might not seem like it has anything to do with drug use, but you can start reinforcing the idea that they have to make their own decisions, and rewarding them when they make good ones. These can be small things like what to have for dinner or what shoes to wear, but the important thing is that they start to learn about consequences. If you eat nothing but cake all day, you’re going to feel sick. If you wear flip flops in the rain, your feet are going to get soaked. Eventually these lessons can transition into more important topics.
Give them a little responsibility. Some of the problem people who use drugs encounter are an inability to make plans and solve problems and a refusal to take responsibility for their actions. Starting small with things like putting away toys before they get a bedtime story or cleaning up spills from dinner before they have dessert is a good way to start teaching these skills.
Let kids ask questions and answer as honestly as you can. Anyone who’s spent time around children knows that the barrage of “why” and “how” can get a bit tiresome, but kids are curious. Take advantage of that. Make sure that they understand they can ask you anything or talk to you about anything, and if one day when they’re older someone offers them drugs, they might come to you about it rather than sneaking behind your back. The older they get, the less likely they are to want to talk about these sorts of things, so do it while you can.
If you or a loved one need help with quitting drugs or alcohol, consider Asana Recovery. We offer medical detox, along with both residential and outpatient programs, and you’ll be supervised by a highly trained staff of medical professionals, counselors, and therapists. Call us any time at (949) 438-4504.