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It's Never Too Soon to Discuss Drugs and Making Good Decisions with Your Kids

By Pat Brannin, Certified Prevention Consultant
Arkansas Department of Human Services Office of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention

It only takes a moment to help children stay drug-free and healthy. Setting clear expectations and repeating them consistently ensures that youth know your standards. That understanding has proven to help them make good decisions.

Healthy habits, including decision-making and self-esteem, develop during the preschool years. Now is the time to celebrate your child's decision-making skills to help him learn problem-solving skills that lower frustration levels. Help your child understand the difference between make-believe and real life by discussing TV programs. Let your child know your likes and dislikes and how violence or bad decisions hurt real people. There is never a bad time to give your child a self-esteem boost by letting him know how proud you are when he helps you.

In the early elementary years (grades K-3), children are exploring their individuality but are still eager to please. Help your child learn to express his feelings in a variety of ways. Set clear rules and behave the way you want your child to behave. Focus on long-term solutions to problems that he is experiencing. Give your child the power to escape from situations that make him feel bad, whether it is an actual place or friendships that are uncomfortable. It is never too early to start talking about drugs and alcohol. According to the Arkansas Prevention Needs Assessment, the average age of first alcoholic drink is 10 years old, so talk to your child before the issue arises. Keep the discussions factual and based in the present. Now is a good time to help him understand the messages in the media by asking him how he feels about what he heard.

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Most people have had trouble at some point in their life knowing what to do to take care of a health problem. This is especially true for those who are the parent of a baby or small child. Any new parent can tell there is a lot to learn when a new baby joins your family, and the need to learn more keeps growing as your child gets older. It seems there is always something new to deal with, especially if your child gets sick. So it's no wonder that parents sometimes feel unsure or even confused about how to best take care of their child. If that ever happens to you, you are not alone, because most Arkansans (not just parents) have difficulty getting the health information they need and using it in a way that really helps them.

More on Understanding how to best take care of your child's health

Kids love an adventure. Tell them there's treasure involved, though, and they'll really get fired up! That's why they'll love a high-tech hobby that will also get them moving outdoors: geocaching.

This activity is a way to find "booty" hidden by others. With millions now enjoying the hobby, it has become a world-wide phenomenon. Arkansas State Parks are ideal spots for pursuing this rewarding adventure!

Caching in on Fun Outdoors!

Celebrate 100 Years of Care, Love and Hope

Arkansas Children's Hospital is marking its 100th birthday this year! Help us celebrate by sharing how ACH has changed the life of someone you love. Log on to our special website, ach100.org, to read other stories and find out how to have yours added to our Story Time gallery. You'll also be treated to a history lesson about the hospital as our time machine takes you all the way back to 1912. And we're excited to show you ways you can help us build on another 100 years of caring for Arkansas children on the Time to Give page. Check it out today!


Dr. Bryan Burke is an Arkansas Children's Hospital pediatrician who serves on the board of Parenting in Arkansas. In this video, he explains why it's so important for mothers in good health to carry their babies to full-term, unless their doctor advises differently .

Watch this video!

So you are expecting a new addition to your family and are excitedly awaiting the arrival. You are experiencing so many thoughts and feelings. You want to do everything you possibly can to ensure your baby's health. That is great; you are doing wonderfully so far. Of course, one of your biggest concerns is: Who is going to be my baby's pediatrician?

Learn how to choose a pediatrician for your baby
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