How to Teach Your Child to Avoid Drugs
Every parent wants their child to thrive, which means teaching them to say “no” to drugs is imperative. To help your child avoid drugs, keep in mind that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Start talking about the dangers of drugs with your child as early as possible, so they feel comfortable discussing the subject with you. Then, continue the dialogue by using the media, role-playing, and modeling to bring the message home for your child.
Talking About Drugs
Lay the groundwork for an early and ongoing dialogue.Your job is to open the lines of communication about drugs and keep them open, so start early. Use everyday situations, such as giving your child cough syrup to discuss your expectations regarding drug use.
- During such a situation, you might say, “You should never take medicine unless it is given to you by a doctor, nurse, or an adult family member. Taking medicine from someone else could be dangerous.”
Ask for their impressions of drugs.Figure out where you should focus your efforts by teasing out your child’s perspective about drugs. Are they already well aware of the danger of drugs? If so, you’ll know how to tailor your message.
- You might say something like, “So, what do you know about drugs?”
- Listen actively to their response. Then, respond by providing some fundamental information and correcting any misconceptions.
Distinguish between prescription medications and illicit drugs.Clarify when it’s okay to take drugs and when it’s not. Give an age-appropriate explanation depending on what your child is able to understand.
- You might tell your child that taking their antibiotics helps their body heal from strep throat. However, even if a medication is prescribed by a doctor, they should only take medications that belong to them, not someone else.
- Depending on your child’s age and developmental level, you might simply say “Drugs you get from the doctor are okay, but the drugs you get off the streets or from friends are dangerous.”
- For a very young child, you could say, "Taking drugs is bad for you, just like eating off the ground."
Stick to the facts.Give your child the rundown on how drugs affect the body, the brain, and a person’s behavior. If necessary, try showing them a YouTube video or a drug-free pamphlet to provide a visual explanation.
- This might sound like, “Drugs can change the way your brain works, making you want more and more of them over time— that’s an addiction. These changes can cause you to struggle in school, not want to hang out with friends, and even get you into trouble with the police. Then, if you suddenly stop taking them, your body might become very sick because it’s used to having the drug.”
- Avoid lying to scare your child— “pot can kill you!” — as that can backfire. Lying can cause them to distrust you later on. You might instead tell truths like, "With drugs, even pot, you never know what else could be mixed in. This can make the drugs dangerous and unpredictable."
Use media messages to stimulate discussions.Make talking about drugs a part of your everyday conversations by taking advantage of situations that occur on TV, in the news, or on social media.
- For instance, if you see a teen on TV take drugs from a friend, explain why they shouldn’t do that.
- This “teachable moment” could lead to a broader discussion about the dangers of both prescription drugs and illicit drugs.
Preventing Drug Use
Communicate clear family rules and expectations.Be firm about your family values— being drug-free— and set firm guidelines that align with those values. Following a set of rules helps your child learn self-control. Plus, this teaches your child the potential consequences of not following the rules, such as loss of privileges.
- Sit down with your partner or co-parent, if you have one, and come up with reasonable limits that reflect your family’s values. Also, devise some consequences you might put into place if the rules are broken.
- Communicate these rules to all of your children, so they know what’s expected of them.
- Post the rules on the fridge or another common area to keep them fresh in your children’s minds.
Suggest competing activities that reduce their odds of using.When your child is involved in constructive activities with positive people, they are less likely to use drugs. Get them involved in sports, band, or other school or community organizations that connect them with kids and adults who are saying “no” to drugs.
- For instance, you might make it a requirement that each of your children participates in an extracurricular activity. This reduces their leisure time and boredom, but it also shows them they can have a good time without drugs.
Role-play scenarios that help them learn to say “no.” At some point, your child will be presented with an opportunity to use drugs, so help them prep for that possibility. Go over common scenarios they may encounter and walk them through how to react to peer pressure.
- For instance, you might pretend to be a close friend who’s asking them to try out pot. Have your child act out how they would respond to that situation.
- As you role-play, give your child pointers and feedback to help them improve their ability to say “no.”
Encourage independent thinking.If your child readily goes along with any and everything their friends do, they could be at risk of drug use down the road. Boost independent thinking by encouraging them to make their own choices, even when they go against their friends’.
- You can start this early and continue it throughout your child’s development. For instance, with a small child, you might say, “I know all of your friend’s take Lunchables to school, but I thought you really liked PB&J? Why don’t we switch it up for a change?”
- With an older child, you might coax them when shopping, “If popularity didn’t matter, which sneakers would you want to get? What doyoulike?”
Get involved in their lives.Knowing the kind of things your child is doing and who they are around is vital to helping them avoid drugs. Their immediate social circle will greatly influence their own beliefs and opinions.
- Invite your child’s friends over to your home, so you can get acquainted with them. Aim to meet the parents of your kid’s friends, too.
- Attend orchestra performances, sporting events, and other activities your child attends or participates in. Doing this can help you better observe what kind of people are attending and determine if their views align with your own.
- When you know your child’s routines and social circles, you are also better equipped to spot the signs of a problem and intervene when necessary.
Spend quality time with your child.Dedicate quality time together as a family and one-on-one at least once a week. When you have a close connection, your child is more likely to respect you, follow your example, and be willing to talk to you about tough topics.
- Do fun activities together, such as bowling, gardening, swimming, or doing crafts.
- Use quality time to build a strong foundation for communicating with your child. Talk about everything— their friends, their studies, their interests, and their opinions about the world.
Praise your child to help build healthy self-esteem.Frequently bring attention to your child’s successes and efforts, and be sure to celebrate them for doing a good job. Say, “Wow, what an amazing painting” or “A 100 on your math test? Awesome!”
- Positive interactions between you and your child can reduce their chances of lacking self-confidence. As a result, your child will be less likely to turn to drugs or give in to peer pressure to use them.
- Even if your child is struggling, you should still praise their efforts when they try and reinforce their good decisions. You could say, "I know you've had a rough week, but I can see that you're trying really hard," or "I'm really proud of you for working so hard to make better choices. I'm here to help you whenever you're struggling."
Modeling Healthy Behaviors
Be a good example.Children typically follow in their parent’s footsteps, so steer clear of addictive habits. Avoid smoking, binge-eating, excessive shopping, and abusing alcohol or drugs. Never take someone else’s medications, so your child sees you practicing what you preach.
- If you are currently struggling with an addictive habit, get help. Work with a counselor to overcome your addiction, so you can be a positive role model for your child.
- Children are very perceptive. Even if you think you're hiding a habit, your child likely knows about it.
Place an emphasis on health-promoting behaviors.Make healthy choices the norm in your household. Feed your family nutritious foods, exercise together, build good sleep routines, and manage stress without substances.
- Emphasize the importance of taking care of and having an appreciation for your body and mind. Doing so may encourage your children to the same.
Model ways to unwind that don't involve substances.Be mindful of the message you send to your kids about substance use. Even if you have an occasional glass of wine, don’t send the message that you’re drinking to escape from problems or recover from a long week at work.
- Instead, say something like, “Oh, today was stressful! I think I’ll go take a nice bath and listen to some soothing music.”
- Doing this helps your children learn healthier ways of coping with stress or negative moods.
QuestionHow do you avoid drugs?Community AnswerGenerally, it's enough to just not seek them out. Just live your life. If you happen to have friends or other people around you pressuring you to do drugs, then resist that pressure and don't do it.Thanks!
QuestionWhat are three reasons why athletes should avoid drugs, especially pills?Pineapple.comCommunity AnswerStudent athletes can get into trouble, lose their spot on the team, be suspended/expelled, suffer side effects that keep them from ever playing again. No high is worth all that.Thanks!
QuestionHow do these people get a hold of drugs in the first place?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThe illegal drug trade is a large and carefully covered up business. Most people buy drugs from drug dealers, who tend to be found by word of mouth or "knowing a guy who knows a guy who knows a guy..." The dealers usually get the drugs from distributors who either make the drug themselves or buy it from people who make it.Thanks!
QuestionWhat is the outcome after teaching your child these things?Community AnswerThe outcome can be a very positive one. If your children face situations where they are offered drugs, they will know more about these substances and be able to turn them down. Teaching your children to avoid drugs will let them be alert to drugs' dangers. They may be less likely to develop a drug addiction.Thanks!
QuestionWhat are some factors that encourage drug abuse?Community AnswerStrained family relations, peer pressure from friends, romantic matters, and too much stress are some factors that encourage drug abuse.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I react if my teenager is using drugs?BrendaberryCommunity AnswerShow that you are disappointed in them and tell them the dangers of drugs. Talk with them in private in a comfortable place like the living room and ask them why they are taking drugs. Once you know the answer, it will be easier to talk to them. Ask more questions based off the answer. Don't raise your voice .Thanks!
QuestionDidn't schools teach them about this already? Why do I need to explain it to them?Community AnswerNot all schools teach about drugs, and while some do, the child may not be old enough to learn/understand it. Even still, reviewing it can help, and you may know something the school didn't teach. You can tell stories about the consequences of drugs, from personal experience or otherwise. If you do have personal experience, tell them how much you regret it and that you don't want them to follow the same path you did. Also, some children just respond better to hearing things from their parents.Thanks!
QuestionIs it safe if my sister has been prescribed steroids by the doctor?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThose are prescription drugs, so it is safe as long as she follows the directions that the doctor gave her.Thanks!
QuestionWhat should I do if a dealer offers me drugs? I don't want any.wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerJust say no, then go tell someone. They might be doing this illegally. If you think they are stalking you, always have a phone on you, so you can contact emergency numbers like 911 or 999 (depending on were you live). The main point is that you should definitely tell someone.Thanks!
To teach your child to avoid drugs, have conversations about drugs early on and discuss your expectations. For example, if you're giving your child medicine, say something like "You should never take medicine unless it's given to you by a doctor or family member since it can be dangerous." Build on these conversations during day-to-day teachable moments, like asking your kids what they’d do differently in a situation on TV that involves drug use. These teachable moments come up more often when you spend quality time with your kids, so prioritize building your relationship.
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