How to speak with your children about saying NO to drugs
The children of this age are exposed to a wide range of content thanks to the internet and television. Their exposure to drugs, violence, and substances such as alcohol and tobacco is far greater than the previous generations. This has made it very important to initiate an early conversation about drugs and substances with children from an early age.
Children must be shown proper guidance during their formative years. Ensuring that they develop the right perspectives is extremely important in their growth. According to numerous experts, the approach that should be followed while talking about such topics with children should be one about ongoing dialogue. The dialogue can be initiated as early as the preschool years and parents should look for everyday moments and spontaneous situations for initiating such conversations. Studies show that children who receive input from their parents about drugs and alcohol are less likely to indulge in these substances. There are different tactics that are to be followed by children of different age groups.
For ages 3 to 5
Children in their preschool years have an extremely strong attachment with their family and look towards their parents for approval. This age is the best time to teach children about nutrition, leading a healthy lifestyle, maintaining a proper hygiene and avoiding substances. Some of the various talking points that can work with children in this age group are mentioned below.
- Show them the benefits of a healthy lifestyle- Discuss actively how good it feels to have a healthy nutritious meal and the advantages of getting enough rest. Show them that healthy living is an enjoyable life. It is important to encourage outdoor activities and sports and continuously demonstrate the advantages of a healthy and fit body.
- Allow them to make their own decisions- It is important to develop the habit of making independent decisions. Allow them to choose between their favorite colors of T-shirt or favorite toppings on bread. This will develop the habit of making a firm decision and will allow them to take the right stand when faced with drugs.
- Inculcate responsibility towards their health- Habits such as cleaning their own mess, eating at regular intervals and taking care of pets among others should be developed through positive reinforcement. The harmful effects of substances should be pointed. All of these learning should be broken down into actionable steps.
- Teach them about harmful substances and toxins- This can be done by beginning to show the various toxic and “out of reach” substances around the house such as cleaners and disinfectants. Developing an understanding of poisonous and harmful substances for the body is important in cultivating a healthy attitude from a young age.
For ages 5 and above
Children of this age are more exposed to media and influence from friends and peers. It is important to hold a direct and honest conversation about substance abuse. It is also extremely important to have wholesome conversations about the portrayal of drugs, alcohol, and tobacco in media such as movies and music as and when they come across it. It is also important to know about the kind of company that the child is maintaining and if there are any drug users in their friend's circle. Parent's themselves should examine their own actions in front of their children and set clear boundary rules about the use of alcohol and tobacco at home. Saying no to drugs is an attitude that needs to be cultivated through effort and character building. Starting this process at an early age definitely helps the process.