Wednesday, May 25, 2016

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Helping Your Child "Just Say No"™

Talking about drugs can make a big difference in keeping your child drug-free.

Children whose parents talked to them "a lot" were 37 percent less likely to use drugs than children whose parents "never" brought up the subject, according to a survey by the National Parents Resource Institute for Drug Education.

Yet many parents never bring up the subject because they don't know what to say, don't think it will make a difference, or are embarrassed about their own past drug use as teens or young adults. Less than a third of kids say their parents talk to them "a lot" about illegal drugs.

"The most effective drug prevention program in the world--parental intervention--is used far less than we think," says Thomas Gleaton of NPRIDE.

But there are ways to make the conversation easier:

  • Set rules and an example. Make clear drug use is forbidden, at home and anywhere else. Young people emulate adults, so use prescription and over-the-counter medicine sparingly--to keep children from getting the idea that drugs are a "quick-fix"--and don't abuse alcohol or tobacco.
  • Get the facts. Kids are likely to get misinformation "on the street," so it's important to provide accurate information to help them separate fact from fiction. If your child says, for instance, "Pot can't be that bad for you because I've seen kids who use it and they're fine,'' you can counter with a statement such as "I'd like to share with you some information about the long-term effects of regular marijuana use.'' The list in the right-hand column will link you to resources for kids and parents, as well as information on the potential warning signs of drug use.
  • Consider your child's age. Young children can understand that "drugs are bad because they can hurt you." Pre-teens and teenagers, however, need more sophisticated information. Growing Up Drug-Free: A Parent's Guide to Prevention is very comprehensive and includes age-appropriate tips; it can be printed online.
  • Get comfortable. Pick a time and place for you and your child to relax and be undisturbed. Remember that the point is `communication,' so prepare to listen carefully as well as talk.
  • Ask questions. One way to introduce the topic is to ask your child what he or she has learned about drugs, in school or from friends, and what he or she thinks about drugs. Try not to launch into an angry lecture if your child mentions something upsetting.
  • Use timing. Take advantage of 'teachable moments', such as a TV program or news report that mentions drugs or an anti-drug commercial, to reinforce your anti-drug message.
  • Use role-playing. Pretend to be a friend who's pressuring her to use drugs or drink. Let your child practice how to refuse, so he or she is prepared ahead of time Suggest simple responses that won't alienate them from peers, like "No, I'm not into that" or "I can't, I have to stay in shape for sports."
  • Make sure your child knows he or she can talk to you. Children who feel at ease talking to their parents will come to them with problems and are less likely to turn to drugs.
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