Talk to Your Child - At Any Age

 

 From The Parent Toolkit at The Partnership at DrugFree.org  http://theparenttoolkit.org/topic/age-by-age-advice

 

Conversations are one of the most powerful tools parents can use to connect with — and protect — their kids. But, when tackling some of life’s tougher topics, especially those about drugs and alcohol, just figuring out what to say can be a challenge. The following scripts will help you get conversations going with your child.



 

 What to Say to Your 2 to 4 Year Old

 

Scenario
Giving your child a daily vitamin.

What to Say
Vitamins help your body grow. You need to take them every day so that you’ll grow up big and strong like Mommy and Daddy—but you should only take what I give you. Too many vitamins can hurt you and make you sick.

 

Scenario
Your kids are curious about medicine bottles around the house.

What to Say
You should only take medicines that have your name on them or that your doctor has chosen just for you. If you take medicine that belongs to somebody else, it could be dangerous and make you sick.

 

Scenario
Your child sees an adult smoking and, since you’ve talked about the dangers of smoking, is confused. (Parenting expert Jen Singer says the same script applies to grade-schoolers.)

What to Say

Grownups can make their own decisions and sometimes those decisions aren’t the best for their bodies. Sometimes, when someone starts smoking, his or her body feels like it has to have cigarettes—even though it’s not healthy. And that makes it harder for him or her to quit.

 

What to Say to Your 5 to 8 Year Old

 Scenario

Your child tells you he was offered prescription drugs by a classmate — but said no.

What to Say
After praising your child for making a good choice and for telling you about it, let him know that in the future, he can always blame you to get out of a bad situation. Say, “If you’re ever offered drugs at school, tell that person, ‘My mother would kill me if I took that and then she wouldn’t let me play baseball.’”

 

Scenario
Your grade-schooler comes home reeking of cigarette smoke.

What to Say
I know you’re curious and you wanted to see what smoking was like, but as you can see, it’s pretty disgusting and it probably made you cough and gag a lot. Your clothes and your breath and your hair all stink. Is that how you want to be known? As the kid who stinks?

 

Scenario
Your child has expressed curiosity about the pills she sees you take every day — and the other bottles in the medicine cabinet.

What to Say
Just because it’s in a family’s medicine cabinet doesn’t mean that it is safe for you to take. Even if your friends say it’s okay, say, “No, my parents won’t let me take something that doesn’t have my name on the bottle.”

 

Scenario
One in seven teens in America has tried huffing—inhaling the fumes from everyday items like nail polish remover, hair spray, and cooking spray. It’s probably been a while since you’ve talked to your child about the dangers of the products under the kitchen sink—but it’s important to reiterate the warning.

What to Say
I know it’s been a while since I talked to you about the dangers of cleaning products and that they should only be used for cleaning. But I’ve heard that some kids are using them to get high. I just want to let you know that even if your friends say, “Hey, we can buy this stuff at the supermarket so it’s totally okay to sniff it,” it’s not. Inhaling fumes from cleaners or products like cooking spray and nail polish remover is as dangerous as doing all the drugs we’ve talked about, like marijuana.

The thing is, when a person uses drugs and alcohol—especially a kid because he’s still growing—it changes how his brain works and makes him do really stupid things. Most people who use drugs and alcohol need a lot of help to get better. I hope [name] has a good doctor and friends and family members to help him/her.

 

What to Say to Your 9 to 12 Year Old

Scenario
Your child is just starting middle school and you know that eventually, he will be offered drugs and alcohol.

What to Say
There are a lot of changes ahead of you in middle school. I know we talked about drinking and drugs when you were younger, but now is when they’re probably going to be an issue. I’m guessing you’ll at least hear about kids who are experimenting, if not find yourself some place where kids are doing stuff that is risky. I just want you to remember that I’m here for you and the best thing you can do is just talk to me about the stuff you hear or see. Don’t think there’s anything I can’t handle or that you can’t talk about with me, okay?

Scenario
You find out that kids are selling prescription drugs at your child’s school. Your child hasn’t mentioned it and you want to get the conversation about it started.

What to Say
Hey, you probably know that parents talk to each other and find things out about what’s going on at school… I heard there are kids selling pills – prescriptions that either they are taking or someone in their family takes. Have you heard about kids doing this?

Scenario
Your child’s favorite celebrity—the one he or she really looks up to—has been named in a drug scandal.

What to Say

I think it must be really difficult to live a celebrity life and stay away from that stuff. Being in the public eye puts a ton of pressure on people, and many turn to drugs because they think drugs will relieve that stress. But a lot of famous people manage to stay clean – like [name others who don’t do drugs] – and hopefully this incident is going to help [name of celebrity] straighten out his life. Of course, people make mistakes – the real measure of a person is how accountable he is when he messes up. It will be interesting to see how he turns out, won’t it?

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