Regardless of his age, kids drug abuse is a reality for some children. Whether your child is only in preschool or is a teenager, having open dialog about the dangers of drug abuse is imperative in order to keep your child on the right path. Discuss the subject of drug abuse as you would any other health-related illness. Give them the facts in a non-judgmental manner, however, let your child know your family's policy on drug abuse--he should know where you stand and your opinion.
Also, before approaching your child, do your homework to identify the misuse of over-the-counter drugs or household chemicals that kids may abuse. Sometimes it's the items kids have free access to that can be the most deadly.
Discussing Drug Abuse with Preschool to Second Grade Child
Early childhood is the perfect time to have an open discussion about drug or medication misuse. Many children this age are not privy to information about the pitfalls of street drugs so discuss drug abuse in terms they can understand. For example, when giving fever medication or an antibiotic to your child, discuss the importance of giving the right amount and the reason why you only take medicine if you are sick or if it is prescribed to you by a doctor.
Third Grade through Early Middle School Discussion
Children are still willing to talk to parents about drug abuse during these years, so be open to answer questions and have frank discussions. These are the years to demonstrate to your child that you are always available to talk about serious issues and that he can come to you. Be receptive to what your child has to say about drug abuse and provide examples of dangerous outcomes. The news or even topical television shows can provide an opportunity for discussion.
Approaching the Late Middle through High School Child About Drugs
At this point your child may know other kids who have experimented with drugs and alcohol. In some cases, your child will read about another teen seriously injured or killed in an auto accident where drugs or alcohol played an important role. Discuss what your child could have done differently in that type of situation.
Although you may make it clear you don't condone drug or alcohol use, you can come to an agreement with your child in order to keep him safe. Create a contract stating that your child can call you for help at any time--whether it's a ride home or for help in case he has been drinking and may be in danger or sick. The contract should include that you cannot question or yell at your child, but your child will be open to discussion and possibly consequences at a later date.
Above all, understand that even the most well behaved, well-informed child isn't immune to the influence of drugs and alcohol. Be open-minded and maintain a warm, family environment that allows your child to express his feelings.
Gina Ragusa is a freelance writer and mom from sunny (and sometimes not) South Florida. Her 15 year experience ranges from writing about banking to tattoo parlors. Read more about her adventures at http://blog.wahm.com/