Jan 12, 2011

Talk to Your Kids about Tobacco, Alcohol, and Drugs

Talk to Your Kids about Tobacco, Alcohol, and Drugs
The Basics
Talk to your child about the dangers of tobacco, alcohol, and drugs. Knowing the facts will help your child make healthy choices.

What do I say?
When you talk about tobacco, alcohol, and drugs:
* Give your child clear rules.
* Find out what your child already knows.
* Be prepared to answer your child’s questions.
* Talk with your child about how to say “no”.

When do I start talking with my child?
Start early. By preschool, most children have seen adults smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol, either in real life or on TV. Make sure your child knows right from the start that you think it’s important to stay safe and avoid drugs.

Here are more reasons to start the conversation early:
* Many kids start using tobacco by age 11 and are addicted by age 14.
* Between ages 9 and 13, kids begin to think that using alcohol is okay.
* Some children are already abusing drugs at age 12 or 13.

Why do I need to talk to my child?
Research shows that kids do listen to their parents. Children who learn about drug risks from their parents are less likely to start using drugs.

When kids choose not to use alcohol or drugs, they are also less likely to:
* Have serious trouble in school
* Get hurt in a car accident
* Be a victim of crime
* Have a problem with addiction as an adult

If you say nothing, your child may think it’s okay to use alcohol and other drugs.

Take Action!

Start to talk with your child about tobacco, alcohol, and drugs today.

Talk with your child early and often.
Start having conversations about your values and expectations while your child is young. Your child will get used to sharing information and opinions with you. This will make it easier for you to continue talking as your child gets older.

Here are some tips:
* Use everyday events to start a conversation. For example, if you see a group of kids smoking, talk about how tobacco hurts the body.
* Give your child your full attention. Turn off the TV, radio, cell phone, and computer, and really listen.
* Try not to “talk at” your child. Encourage your child to ask questions. If you don’t know the answer to a question, look it up together.

Teach your child the facts.
Your child needs to know how using tobacco, alcohol, and drugs can hurt the body and cause problems at home and in school. Kids who know the facts are more likely to make good choices.

Set clear rules for your child.
Not wanting to upset their parents is the number one reason kids give for not using drugs. Your child will be less tempted to use tobacco, alcohol, and drugs if you explain your rules clearly.

Give your child tools to say “NO”.
Kids say that they use alcohol and other drugs to “fit in and belong” with other kids. Talk to your child about how to say “no”. Your child can make a plan for when other kids offer tobacco, drugs, or alcohol.

Set a good example.
* If you smoke, try to quit.
* If you drink, don’t drink too much or too often.
* If you use drugs, find a treatment program near you
* Never drink or use drugs and drive.