Talking to Your Child About Drugs
Your desire to address issues with your son now will be of significant benefit as trying to change inaccurate thoughts and behaviors when it comes to drug use after the fact is much more difficult. Let’s focus on 3 things which I will cover in more detail below.
- Information is beneficial not detrimental. Obtaining accurate information and discussing it with your children does not promote drug experimentation or use.
- Focus on expectations in all areas of life that promote success.
- Encourage productive and ongoing conversations while avoiding criticism and judgement.
- Rewarding successes is more productive than punishing bad behavior.
Many fear that a talking to your child about drugs will encourage teens to experiment with them. Not true! People respond to information so it is important that you make sure your child has accurate information. When parents don’t provide accurate information for their children, children typically obtain wrong information from their peers and the internet. Most of the wrong information minimizes the dangerousness of these substances and promotes regular use.
- Begin by obtaining accurate information yourself, drugabuse.gov is a website with detailed and accurate information that be used to educate your child. Increase your ability to provide facts and correct misguided information that may be used to promote self-destructive behavior. Open conversations between parents and children increase respect and trust.
- Always focus on health, both physical and emotional. Teach your child to emphasize personal strengths which are developed internally. Growth can’t be found in a substance but substances will definitely prevent growth.
- The ability to have difficult conversations is extremely powerful when the foundation is based on mutual acceptance and understanding.
- Listen to your child so they feel understood, this does not mean that you have to agree with them.
- Acknowledge what they have learned and then provide accurate information. Stay away from arguments as they raise a child’s defensiveness and impairs their ability to reason.
- Set limits and expectations. Be clear and firm at all time, you are there to protect them not be their friend. Be prepared for them to test limits, you will need to make difficult decisions. For example, “Until you are an adult and completely independent, meaning you do not rely on us for financial support, you will focus on health and personal growth and not engage in any self-destructive behavior.” It is important to note that negotiation surrounding smoking, alcohol, and social drug use is extremely detrimental. Permissiveness and agreements like “it’s ok to use a vape as long as you are not smoking marijuana” is a path to greater dysfunction.
- Emphasis on success and regular conversations about your child’s strengths and accomplishments promotes more success. Everyone needs validation and regular recognition that is sincere goes a long way.
If you or someone you know is suffering from mental health or addiction issues click here www.nsightrecovery.com
Gerald J. Grosso, PsyD, LMFT
Nsight Psychology & Addiction is a National Leader in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment