Teaching Children About Drugs and AlcoholYou need to be teaching your children about drugs and alcohol and the dangers they can cause to their brain and body because it could save them. When your children are young, the focus is on helping them grow and develop, learn through play and explore their immediate world while keeping them safe and strengthening the bond that exists between you. As your children grow and their world expands to the neighborhood, their school and the surrounding community, your concerns for them will naturally grow as they are exposed to a greater potential of dangers. You are one of your children’s strongest lines of defense and their greatest ally in helping them avoid these dangers. Teaching your children about drugs and alcohol is one of the most effective measures you can take toward prevention.

Teaching Children About Drugs and AlcoholThe University of Rochester Medical Center suggests that you can begin very basic, age-appropriate conversations about drugs and alcohol with children as young as five years old. At this point, a conversation may consist of saying “The people in that commercial are acting silly when they drink beer, but they have to be careful because drinking too much can be very dangerous. Children shouldn’t drink alcohol because it’s not safe.” Discussion prompts such as this one will pave the way for questions and answer sessions that can help you build a foundation of safety and prevention that can be built upon as your children grow older.

Children as young as nine or 10 years old are exposed to drugs and alcohol, states Central Michigan University. Around this time many schools begin drug prevention education. Be encouraged to talk with your children once they reach the age of pre-adolescence, but know that it’s not too late if your child is an adolescent or teen. Use this book as a guide to help you ensure that you approach your children with the right information, words, body language and attitude, while also setting an example that supports your effective discussions.

Teaching Children About Drugs and Alcohol: An Introduction

Teaching Children About Drugs and AlcoholStatistics show that the majority of children will not use drugs or alcohol. Yet those who do represent the staggering numbers of adolescents, teens and their families who are forever impacted by alcohol or drug use. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 25 percent of teens in the 12th grade will drink alcohol. This same 2011 survey revealed that 7.2 percent of all 8th grade students smoked marijuana, increasing up to 22.6 percent by the time kids reach the 12th grade. The study also reports that 15.2 percent of 12th grade teens abuse prescription drugs and, although abuse of drugs such as cocaine, heroin and inhalants has declined, an average of eight out of every 100 eighth graders is trying these drugs.

Parenting is one of the toughest jobs in the world, and teaching your children about drugs and alcohol isn’t always easy. But it is important and can make a difference in the lives of your children. This book will help you have a positive and impactful discussion with your children by having you take a look at the influence you have in your children’s decision-making processes as well as the attitudes and beliefs they form about substance abuse. You’ll also gain tips for talking with your kids while learning how to teach them to make healthy, responsible decisions for themselves.

Teaching Children About Drugs and Alcohol: Set the Example

Teaching Children About Drugs and AlcoholThere is a great deal parents can do as positive role models for their children. According to the National Crime Prevention Council, parents who are positive role models have a tremendous impact on their children, helping to prevent experimentation with and eventual abuse of drugs or alcohol mainly because their children don’t want to let them down. Even when it seems as if your children aren’t paying attention, they are and will closely follow the examples you set. The things you do and don’t do communicate to your children just as strongly as the words you say.

Be the Example You Want Them to Follow

From infancy through adulthood, you set the example for your children’s behaviors, beliefs, actions and attitudes. As toddlers, children begin to mimic the behaviors and actions of their parents and, as time goes on, what they see you do becomes their accepted norm. The way you deal with problems, express your feelings, work through stress and celebrate achievements all speak volumes to your children. The forethought put into your thoughts, feelings and actions will help you to be the best possible role model for your children.

Admit Your Mistakes So They Can Learn

The Center for Child Welfare asserts that admitting mistakes they’ve made is a powerful way for parents to role model for their children. In an age appropriate way you can tell your children about a time when drinking too much alcohol or even using too much of a tobacco product made you sick and resulted in poor decision-making. Likewise, it’s important to apologize for mistakes even when they’re not related to substance abuse. Everyone makes mistakes; by being honest, apologizing and taking action to correct your course you show your children how to do the same.

Actions You Can Take to Positively Influence Children. There are many ways to reinforce smart decision-making among your children. Everything from your communication skills and your level of involvement, to the values and skills you teach has the potential to positively influence your adolescent or teen. These factors all contribute toward positive youth development which, according to the University of Wisconsin, helps your children overcome any risk factors that might lead them toward substance abuse. As you do your part to promote positive development and growth in your children, you can prevent them from many problematic circumstances, including substance use.

  • Positive Communication Provided Equally. There have probably been times when you were aware your adolescent or Teaching Children About Drugs and Alcoholteen was tuning you out during a conversation. In all likelihood, he or she felt as if you were lecturing or admonishing. Positive communication creates an atmosphere that encourages your child to remain engaged and responsive during conversations. It’s also important to pay attention to how you communicate and interact with other children in the family. Make an effort to invest equal time and attention in each child; they will notice when you don’t.
  • Get Involved with Children’s Activities. The Mayo Clinic finds that being aware of and becoming involved in your children’s activities can have an impact on preventing future substance abuse. Offer to volunteer at school or after-school events. As teens get older, they tend to not want their parents around as much. Offset this by becoming involved in an indirect way. For example, rather than coaching your child’s team, you can sell snacks in the booth at the end of the field. Let your child know you’re proud of their activity and want to be involved, even in a small way.
  • Set Boundaries. Adolescents and teens in particular have a way of testing boundaries. This is a natural part of becoming more independent and exploring that independency. Although you want to encourage your children’s independence, it’s important to do so within the confines of appropriate boundaries. Rules with fair consequences that are carried out help guide your children toward smart choices while encouraging them to avoid behaviors that will result in negative consequences. Setting and maintaining boundaries helps your children learn to be responsible for their choices.
  • Meaningful Use of Time. Teaching your children about drugs and alcohol and using their time in meaningful ways by doing the same so they can learn how to invest their time in positive activities, instead of engaging in negative activities such as substance abuse. Schedule regular family time and don’t let anything interfere with it. Using lame excuses to back out of family time simply communicates to your children that they’re not that important to you. Engage in health-promoting activities together, such as going on family bike rides. Demonstrate the importance of giving to others by volunteering, even once in a while, and including your children in the efforts.
  • Promote Good Values. Promoting good values within your family helps prevent drug and alcohol use, finds the University of Kansas’ Community Toolbox. When your behaviors and actions demonstrate the value of honesty, integrity, self-respect and other healthy characteristics, your children will naturally follow in preserving the values that are upheld within the family.
  • Help Them Develop Social Skills and Self-Confidence. Good social skills and self-confidence help your children learn to Teaching Your Children About Drugs and Alcoholinteract with others in positive ways. Provide your kids with ample opportunities to interact with others, both children and adults, who will model appropriate social skills. Affirm your children’s efforts in specific ways to help cement effective social skills. For instance, rather than saying “You did a great job talking to so-and-so” be specific with words such as “Good job using eye contact and nodding your head when talking with so-and-so; that showed her you were listening.” Set reasonable limits for activities that do not promote social skills, such as video games and the use of social media networks.

Reducing Risks by Promoting Protective Factors

The steps you take toward setting a good example for your children can help them make good decisions at home, but these decision-making abilities must extend to the outside world to provide the greatest effect. No matter how well you do at role modeling for your child, he or she will face other potential risk factors in the outside world. The National Institute on Drug Abuse finds that these risk factors, as well as ones that are present within the home, can be counteracted by promoting protective factors.

Risk Factors That Influence Substance Abuse Among Children

Teach Your Children About Drugs and Alcohol

Risk factors can be present due to the child’s personality or behavior. They can also be caused by familial circumstances, situations with peers and issues at school. This list contains some of the factors that can place a child at risk for drug or alcohol use.

  • Difficulty getting along with others
  • Presence of mental health issues
  • Early experimentation
  • History of substance abuse or other risky behaviors in the family
  • Lack of parental support or appropriate boundaries
  • Friends who pose a negative influence
  • Difficulty at school
  • Low socio-economic conditions

Protective Factors That Help Prevent Substance Abuse Among Children

The existing balance between protective factors and risk factors impacts your children’s propensity toward substance abuse, says the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Although it’s not possible to completely eliminate all risk factors, you can reduce their effects by outweighing them with protective factors. This list consists of some of the protective factors that can help prevent your children from becoming involved with drugs or alcohol.

  • Able to get along with others easily
  • Possesses positive self-worth and good social skills
  • Has a good relationship with parents
  • Feels connected to surrounding social support systems, including family, school and community
  • Belongs to a family that does not model risky behaviors
  • Has friends who are a positive influence
  • Enjoys an overall positive experience at school
  • Involved in extracurricular activities
  • Surrounding community is supportive and caring

Teaching Your Children About Drugs and Alcohol: Talking with Your Children

Since teaching your children about drugs and alcohol will be one of the most important conversations you have with your children, it’s wise to avoid going into it unprepared, in the wrong frame of mind or with a shortage of time. Even if the dangers of drugs and alcohol have previously been discussed in your family, planning a sit-down conversation conveys to your kids the importance of the topic. You’ll want to prepare for the discussion as you would any important business meeting and give thought to your words, how you say them, the attitude and feelings with which you express them, as well as your body language.

Before You Sit Down to Talk

Plan ahead for your sit-down discussion so everyone involved will be free to spend the time without worrying about work, homework or activities. If you will be speaking with your children along with a partner, it’s wise to talk beforehand about what you want to say and how you want to say it. A united front helps to avoid sending mixed messages to your children. Choose a time of day that helps everyone give their attention to the conversation. Squeezing in a talk at the end of the day when everyone is tired can be counterproductive.

The Actual Discussion

According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc., children whose parents talk with them about alcoholism Teaching Your Children About Drugsand drug abuse are 50 percent less likely to use these substances. Clearly, you can make a big impact on your children through conversation and open discussions. A productive conversation involves more than talking, and children will be more receptive when you talk with them, rather than at them. The following considerations will assist you when the time comes to have an actual conversation with your children.

  • Starting the Conversation. Begin by explaining the reasons why you want to talk to your children about drugs and alcohol. Adolescents and teens may greet the opening of your conversation by rolling their eyes, but they still need to hear that you love and care for them and want to help them become more independent while remaining healthy and safe. To avoid defensiveness and any misconceptions that you don’t trust them, tell your children you’ll feel better if you know you’ve talked with them about the dangers of drug and alcohol use.
  • Practice Active Listening. Ask questions to find out what your children already know. Use open-ended questions to elicit more in-depth responses, and let your children know you’re listening by maintaining eye contact and rephrasing some of the things they say. Listening to your child can enlighten you as to some of their misconceptions or experiences so you can tailor your discussion to suit their individual needs. If you’re talking with more than one child at a time, make sure to give each one a turn to ask and answer questions.
  • Be Concise. Be concise and stay on topic to avoid losing your children’s attention and interest. Explain facts about what can happen when someone uses drugs or alcohol. Give detailed, practical examples of things your kids can do to avoid temptation or respond to peer pressure. If you don’t know the answer to a question your child asks, it’s okay to say so. Write the question down and promise to find out the answer and get back to them later.
  • Keep it Age Appropriate. It’s important to be honest with your children, but keep your conversation age-appropriate. Let Teaching Your Children About Alcoholyour children know the seriousness of substance abuse, but don’t scare them. It’s okay to explain that drugs and alcohol can make a person sick physically and mentally, and you can go into age-appropriate detail about these things. But it’s not necessary to use scare tactics, such as pictures of people on drugs or affected by drugs to drive home your points.
Encouraging Questions and Comments

Adolescents and teens aren’t always forthcoming with their thoughts, and sometimes they don’t know how to ask about something that’s on their mind. Encourage your children to ask questions once the discussion is over by providing them with prompts. For example you might say “What did you think about the techniques we talked about for dealing with peer pressure?” or “Do you have any questions about what to do when someone tries to give you drugs or alcohol?” Be specific with your questions, instead of posing general or yes-and-no questions.

Plan a Follow-Up Discussion After Teaching Your Children About Drugs and Alcohol

Before ending your conversation on teaching your children about drugs and alcohol, set aside a time to follow up with your children with another discussion. Let your son or daughter know that you are always available to answer questions or talk with them. Even so, plan a follow-up, explaining to your children that it’s important to you that they have an opportunity to ask any new questions that come up.

Teaching Your Children About Drugs and Alcohol: Help Them Develop Good Decision-Making Skills

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes, the skills you teach and promote within your family are one of your greatest assets for drug and alcohol abuse prevention with your children. A strong sense of security and love within the family contributes toward your child’s ability to make healthy decisions when it comes to drugs and alcohol. Even though you know you love your children, make sure they know it, too.

Promote Good Self-Esteem

Low self-esteem can lead children to engage in risky behaviors such as substance abuse, finds the Mayo Clinic. You can help build your children’s self-esteem by giving them the opportunity to take on new tasks, chores or skills that increase their capabilities and make them feel competent. Further build self-esteem by complimenting your children’s abilities, skills and talents in specific ways. Instead of saying “Good job making healthy choices”, it’s more meaningful to say “I’m proud of you for getting involved in the after-school sports program; it shows that you care about being active and taking care of your body.”

Encourage Critical Thinking Skills

If you take care of every problem your children ever have, they’ll never have the chance to learn how to problem-solve for themselves. Young children can be encouraged to use critical thinking skills by providing them with possible solutions to choose from when facing a problem. As they get older, engage your kids in conversation to help them learn how to analyze a situation, develop possible solutions and determine which ones are the best.

Foster Healthy Independence

As your children grow older, they’ll naturally want to become more and more independent. Each child will be different, and one of your children may be able to handle more independence than the other. Give your kids an opportunity to explore their independence while keeping an eye on them from afar. Know your children’s friends and where they are, suggests the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc.

The Impact of Positive and Negative Peer Pressure

It’s not possible to be with your child every moment, which is why it’s important for them to know how to handle and respond to negative peer pressure. Discuss possible responses they can use when someone offers drugs or alcohol, and practice by role playing. The University of Georgia asserts that your influence over your children will diminish as they grow older. Take advantage of early opportunities to help them learn to say “no” to negative pressures.

The Important Role of Rules and Boundaries

Teaching Your Kids About Drugs and AlcoholTeens and adolescents are famous for testing boundaries. Nevertheless, it’s important that you don’t waiver on this very important parental task. Helping your children develop good self-esteem and decision-making skills is critical, but you must continue to guide them with reasonable boundaries and rules Even the best of children do not possess enough wisdom or life experience to deal with every situation in the right way. Setting boundaries is an effective way to put your wisdom, knowledge and life experience to use so it benefits your children.

Teaching Your Children About Drugs and Alcohol: What Every Parent Should Know

The amount of information available regarding drugs, alcohol and substance abuse prevention can be overwhelming for a parent who simply wants to sit down and talk to their children. Don’t worry about knowing it all; instead, focus on communicating and teaching your children about drugs and alcohol in a way that fosters further discussions and bridges gaps, suggests the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. Use this information to get started, and plan future conversations to answer any additional questions.

Commonly Used Substances and Their Potential Effects

Teaching Kids About Drugs and AlcoholThis list does not cover all types of drugs, but provides information on those that are most commonly used by teens and adolescents. Some of the potential side effects are listed, which you can use to provide your children with responses to any questions they might ask. Not everyone responds the same to each substance, but they all pose potentially dangerous risks.

  • Alcohol. Alcohol, such as hard liquor, wine and beer, is a type of depressant. Drinking alcohol leads to decreased inhibition, dizziness, loss of consciousness and slurred speech. Long-term abuse of alcohol can cause malnutrition due to decreased appetite and problems with thinking and memory, while leading to blackouts in which the user cannot recall what happened.
  • Marijuana. Marijuana is a mood-altering drug and, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, its use by teens has Teach Kids About Drugs and Alcoholincreased in the past five years, while the perceived risk of using it has decreased. Marijuana use reduces concentration, increases anxiety and appetite, and can cause paranoia. Long-term use can lead to lung infections and cancer.
  • Synthetic Drugs. Use of designer drugs has increased by more than 200 percent in the past two years. Synthetic marijuana and bath salts in particular are dangerous because of their easy availability through some gas stations, paraphernalia shops and internet sources. These drugs can cause blackouts, paranoia, aggressive behavior, tachycardia and stroke.
  • Inhalants. Glue, paint thinner and other common household products that are huffed or inhaled pose a great danger. They cause feelings of euphoria, impaired judgment, irregular heartbeat, psychological problems and can cause organ damage.
  • Prescription Drugs. During 2011, approximately 15 percent of 12th graders abused prescription drugs, states the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Each prescription drug presents its own side effects. Keep any medication you take locked up and explain to your children why you need to use it.
  • Stimulants. Stimulants, such as cocaine or methamphetamine, kick the central nervous system into high gear, increasing energy, heart rate and breathing, while decreasing appetite and the need for sleep. Long-term use can lead to severe paranoia and grossly compromised physical and mental health.
  • Heroin. Heroin is the least used substance amongst children, finds the University of Michigan, yet it bears mention due to its addictiveness. This dangerous drug causes feelings of euphoria, numbness, malnutrition and puts users at risk for contagious diseases and a propensity toward crime.
Reasons Your Children Might be Tempted to Try Drugs or Alcohol

According to the University of Wisconsin, there are many temptations and reasons leading children to experiment with drugs or alcohol. Curiosity and boredom are two reasons that emphasize the importance of keeping your child involved in activities that stimulate them physically and mentally. Children can also be tempted by rebellion or the desire to escape physical or mental pain. Drug or alcohol use is also a form of attention-getting behavior that a child may be tempted to use to gain the attention of a parent.

Risks of Continued Use

If your child experiments with drugs or alcohol and continues using them, he or she faces the risk of progressing from substance abuse to substance dependency, asserts Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center. As your child keeps using the substance of his or her choice, it will have an effect on their mental and physical health. He or she may begin performing poorly at school and can fall into the wrong crowd. Because participating in one risky behavior can lead to other similar negative choices, a child who falls into substance abuse or addiction may become involved in illegal or otherwise potentially harmful activities.

Signs That Your Child is Using Drugs or Alcohol

Teach Your Child About DrugsBeing able to recognize the early warning signs can enable you to prevent your child from doing more than experimenting with alcohol or drugs. Although the earliest warning signs are subtle and can often be chalked up to typical teenage behavior, knowledge of your child’s normal behavior and personality will help you see the warnings. Look for a sudden change in eating or sleeping patterns; watch for subtle changes in appearance such as lack of grooming, red eyes or a runny nose. Pay attention to mood swings, avoidance, secretive behavior and other out-of-character behavioral choices.

Teaching Your Children About Drugs and Alcohol: Establish a Plan for Prevention

You’ve taken the time prepare for teaching your children about drugs and alcohol use, and you’ve determined that you’re on the right track with helping them learn to make wise choices for themselves. Now it’s time to take one more preventative measure by establishing a plan for prevention. Talking with your children is an effective first step, but your discussion can be reinforced by outside sources, a healthy lifestyle and the creation of a family pact to refrain from substance abuse.

Enlist Other Resources

Outside resources can help add weight to your words, especially during the teen years when children tend to think they know more than their parents. If your teen has a positive relationship with another adult, such as a coach, adult family member or someone in your church, ask that person if it would be possible for your son or daughter to talk to them. Age-appropriate books and movies can also serve as helpful resources. Before referring your child to another person or resource, always take the time to make sure that resource supports what you say and believe. Additionally, don’t underestimate the impact of positive peer pressure which, according to the University of Georgia, can counteract that of negative peer pressure.

Create a Family Pact That Promotes Prevention

A personal or family plan to prevent drug or alcohol use communicates to your children that you support their efforts and are in this Teaching Kids About Alcoholtogether. Work together as a family to create a promise or a few concise mission statements that everyone can agree to and sign off on. Make the pact something that everyone is able to adhere and commit to. Plan to review your prevention plan as your children grow to amend it as necessary.

Enjoy a Healthy Lifestyle Together

Being an active part of your children’s lives and engaging in healthy activities together is highly effective in helping them steer clear of drugs and alcohol, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Make the pursuit of a healthy lifestyle a natural part of your home life by preparing and eating healthy meals together, participating in physical activities the entire family can enjoy, and enjoying times of rest and relaxation.

Teaching Your Children About Drugs and Alcohol: What to Do When Your Child Needs Help

Discovering that your child is already involved with drugs or alcohol is upsetting and scary. It’s normal to feel confused and uncertain after being blindsided by a situation you never expected to happen. As a parent, you still possess the ability to be influential in a positive way by helping your child stop abusing alcohol or drugs. Use this information to guide you through the process as you try to figure out what to do to help a son or daughter who’s engaged in substance abuse.

Don’t Wait

It’s best not to take a wait-and-see attitude when it comes to your children and experimentation with alcohol or drugs. Gather your facts and allow yourself to calm down emotionally to avoid taking an angry or accusatory tone with your son or daughter. Present him or her with specific instances that have raised concern, such as “You smelled like alcohol when you came home from your friend’s house last night” or “I picked your school bag up off the floor and a bag of pills fell out of it”. Let your child know that you love him or her and care too much to allow continued drug or alcohol use to occur.

Seek Professional Treatment

Immediately seek professional treatment for your child if it’s clear he or she has a problem with drugs or alcohol. Love is not enough toChildren and Drug Abuse help an adolescent or teen child safely detox from drugs or alcohol, or recover from addiction. A caring, knowledgeable healthcare staff, such as those at BestDrugRehabilitation.com, can provide your child with closely monitored care to detox safely before progressing through the recovery process. Throughout the program, your child will receive medical care and counseling geared specifically toward his or her needs.

Get Support for Yourself

Learning About Drug AbuseIn the midst of finding appropriate treatment and support for your child, it’s also essential to obtain support for yourself and your partner. Addiction is a family disease that leaves no one untouched. The emotional stress of coping with substance abuse in the family can strain your relationship with your partner, make it difficult to focus on work and cause you to doubt yourself as a parent. Meeting with a counselor or support group can help you work through the process of coping with your child’s substance abuse and assist you in preparing for their aftercare.

Maintain Aftercare

Addiction is a chronic illness. Similar to other chronic illnesses, lifelong maintenance is necessary to keep the disease in check. Toward the end of your child’s rehabilitation you’ll start preparing for aftercare. Depending upon the addiction your child is recovering from as well as other factors, such as family circumstances, or emotional or physical illness, ongoing counseling may be recommended, along with support group attendance and life skills classes. Be as actively involved in your child’s aftercare as possible, and learn how to best support his or her sobriety from your counselor or support group.

Helping Your Children Enjoy a Bright and Healthy Future

It’s understandable that you may feel hopeless after learning that your child is abusing drugs or alcohol. You may blame yourself and bear the weight of a tremendous amount of guilt. The dreams you had for your child’s future seem as if they’re all crashing to the ground, but there is still hope for your child to have a healthy, happy future.

A drug or alcohol rehabilitation center, such as BestDrugRehabilitation.com, can provide you and your child the hope that comes with breaking free from addiction. During treatment, your son or daughter will have the opportunity to detoxify safely, gain the support of an addictions counselor and learn life skills that will assist him or her in developing healthy ways to cope with difficulties and any temptations faced. Seeking help for your child today is one of the most loving ways you can provide the help that he or she needs to stop using drugs or alcohol.

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