Start Talking Now!
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.