There is only one known entity that can consistently help kids make smart decisions, Parents!
Age-Appropriate Tips for Talking to Your Kids
K – 3rd Grade
- Be open to questions your child may have regarding alcohol, tobacco or drugs. Explain what alcohol and drugs are and the harm they cause.
- Express strong family rules about alcohol and drugs.
- Develop in-depth discussions with your child. Lay the foundation for important discussions later.
- Build trust, so your child feels comfortable coming to you with problems at later ages.
4th Grade – 6th Grade
- Be factual. Avoid exaggeration. Explain why some people use substances and explain the real dangers they are taking.
- Explain how illegal drugs and alcohol adversely affect the developing brain.
- Give the facts, discredit the myths they will hear about alcohol and illegal drugs.
- Rehearse potential scenarios in which friends may offer your child drugs or alcohol. Prepare your child to handle difficult peer situations.
7th Grade – 9th Grade
- Kids at this age are curious about alcohol and drugs. It is critical to provide them with factual information before they have the opportunity to experiment.
- Although teens may not show they appreciate it, parents profoundly shape the choices their children make about drugs and alcohol.
- Discuss long-term effects underage drinking has on brain development and the increased risk of life-long addiction tendencies.
- Practice role-playing. Prepare your teen to deal with situations where they might be confronted with alcohol or illegal drugs.
- Reinforce family rules regarding underage drinking and illegal drug use.
10th Grade — 12th Grade
- Communicate that underage drinking and illegal drug use have serious and permanent consequences. Older teenagers are future oriented and more likely to respond to discussions on how underage drinking can affect: getting into college, being accepted for certain jobs and tendency toward alcohol dependency.
- Praise your older teen for all their healthy/positive choices. Encourage them for all the things they do well. Tell them how proud you are of them. Being appreciated by parents is highly motivating for teens to continue to make healthy choices.