Talking about addiction can be a difficult topic, but one of utmost importance. It is easy for children to stumble across misinformation when it comes to drugs and alcohol. Parents can be proactive by setting a positive example and ensuring that their children are equipped with the knowledge to make healthy choices. October 23-31 is Red Ribbon Week, a time to raise awareness about the dangers of drug and alcohol use. There are many ways that parents can start educating their children about addiction.
Teach your child about making healthy choices and steering clear of drugs and alcohol from a young age. According to the National Family Partnership, “Children of parents who talk to their teens regularly about drugs are 42% less likely to use drugs than those who don’t, yet only a quarter of teens report having these conversations.” Don’t assume that your children know better or have learned all they need to know in school.
It shouldn’t be a once-and-done conversation; it should be ongoing. Use teachable moments to find out what your kids know and educate them about the dangers of drug and alcohol misuse. There are many ways you can start the conversation:
- Movies or television show
- News stories
- Situations in the community
- Life experiences
Keep things age-appropriate and discuss topics in a way that is easy to understand. Encourage your kids to ask questions, and listen to what they have to say. You may be surprised at what they do or don’t know, or what they’re curious about.
Set Rules and Expectations
Establish clear expectations and consequences when it comes to substance use. Be a positive role model in your own actions and conversations. Your children absorb more from watching you than you may realize. If they do break the rules, follow through with consequences, but also talk with them about why their actions or behaviors were unacceptable. Make sure they know the dangers it presents and how they can make better choices in the future.
Encourage them to partake in healthy activities that instill good habits and values, and do the same yourself. The whole family can practice better health routines together by eating well-balanced meals, managing stress, staying active, and giving back to help others. Sign your kids up for sports, dance, Girls Scouts, Boy Scouts, or other recreational activities to give them something constructive to do, cultivate positive friendships, and build their self-esteem. Get to know their friends and their families to make sure you’re on the same page with expectations for your children.
Also, keep open lines of communication so that your children feel comfortable talking to you about tough topics such as drugs or alcohol or any other problems they may be facing. Talk about ways that they can say no to drugs and stand up to peer pressure. Empower them to make healthy decisions and stand behind what they believe in. Praise them for making good choices and being honest with you if they are offered drugs or alcohol.
Take advantage of the opportunity to start your kids out on the right foot from the time they are young. If you are struggling with addiction and ready to turn your own life around and show that recovery is possible, Crossroads is here to help. We have programs for pregnant and new mothers, as well as other services to help you enhance your parenting skills, build stronger relationships with your family, and stay on the path to long-term recovery. Change is possible and Crossroads will help you navigate the process and support your journey.
[cta] If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, Crossroads can help you get on the road to recovery. Call us today to learn more. [/cta]