10 tips for talking to your teenager about drugs

Talking to teenagers about drugs can be very daunting for parents. The Australian Federal Government’s National Drugs Campaign recommends you start talking to your teenagers about drugs early, and be willing to talk to them about the issue at any time.

If you don’t think you know enough about the topic, the National Drugs Campaign website – www.drugs.health.gov.au – gives you a good starting point to educate yourself or brush up on what drugs your teenager may be exposed to, their effects and dangers.

The website also offers the following tips on how to talk to your teenagers about drugs:

1. Be an active part of their lives

Set aside time to spend with your kids. Take an interest in their activities and establish a routine for doing things with them. Spending time as a family is important, like eating together every day. When they go out, don’t be afraid to ask where they’re going or who they’ll be with.

“When they go out, don’t be afraid to ask where they’re going or who they’ll be with”

2. Listen to your kids

Showing that you’re prepared and willing to listen will help your kids feel more comfortable about talking with you. During a conversation try not to interrupt them or react in a way that will stop whatever you’re discussing. Encourage them to feel comfortable about telling you their problems, and ask for their input on family decisions to show that you value their opinions.

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3. Be a role model

When it comes to drugs there’s no such thing as ‘do as I say, not as I do’. If you take drugs yourself you can’t expect your kids to take your advice. It’s important not to underestimate the influence your behaviour has on them, particularly when it comes to alcohol or tobacco, or misuse of medications.

“It’s important not to underestimate the influence your behaviour has on them”

4. Be honest with them

It’s natural that you won’t necessarily know everything about drugs. So while it’s important to be informed, you shouldn’t pretend to have answers to every question. Be prepared to say ‘I don’t know but I’ll find out for you’. If you’re honest and clear about where you stand, your kids will find it easier to be honest with you.

5. Pick your moment

Make sure you pick the right time to discuss drugs with your kids, by looking for natural opportunities as they arise. This might be when you’re all watching TV, or when they’re talking about their friends and/or someone at school.

RELATED: Don’t be your teenager’s ‘drinking buddy’, says study

6. Be calm throughout

When it comes to talking about drugs, being calm and rational is important. Do not overreact. Don’t ridicule or lecture, as this could make future discussions about drugs more difficult and make your kids more resistant to talking about them at all.

7. Avoid conflict

It’s difficult to solve a problem when there’s a conflict. Try to see your child’s point of view while encouraging them to understand yours. If a confrontation does develop, stop the conversation and come back to it when everyone is calmer.

“It’s difficult to solve a problem when there’s a conflict”

8. Keep talking

Once you’ve had a discussion about drugs it’s important to have another. Start talking to your kids about drugs early, and be willing to talk to your kids about the issue at any time.

RELATED: How NOT to host a teenage party

9. Set clear boundaries

Generally kids expect and appreciate some ground rules. By actively involving them in setting the rules you can encourage them to take more responsibility for sticking to them.

Once you’ve decided on these rules, enforce them, and let your kids know the consequences of breaking them.

Discuss and agree to ways your kids will act if they find themselves in situations where drugs are present. For example, let them know that you’ll always collect them if they need you to, whatever the hour.

“Discuss and agree to ways your kids will act if they find themselves in situations where drugs are present”

However, make it absolutely clear that you would rather they didn’t put themselves in a situation where they are likely to be exposed to drugs in the first place.

10. Focus on positives

Recognise your kids’ good behaviour and emphasise the things they do well. Encourage them to feel good about themselves and let them know that they deserve respect and should also respect themselves.

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For more ideas on how you can comfortably talk to your teenagers about drugs, visit the website www.australia.gov.au/drugs or call 1800 250 015.

These tips are reprinted with permission from the National Drugs Campaign website: www.drugs.health.gov.au

The Australian Government’s National Drugs Campaign (NDC) aims to reduce young Australians’ motivation to use illicit drugs by increasing their knowledge about the potential negative consequences of drug use.

 

 

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