How to Educate Kids About Drugs
We all have heard this before: “kids of today are our tomorrow. They will inherit what we leave behind.”
Kids start out as these wonderful bursts of joy that make us laugh, cry, and make our hearts melt with their innocence, smeared pictures, and unfiltered commentary. As they grow up, they become more independent (even at an early age). They start to regurgitate back to us what they have learned from us and others. They make their own decisions based on what they see, what they hear, and what they are told to do. Many parents, caregivers, friends, and relatives truly do understand that all of our actions today determine the future of our children – if they will live happy, productive lives, or if they will take the other route.
Drugs are a major problem in society today, an epidemic really. Handling the drug crisis begins first with prevention, so the following are some tips on how to educate your child (or those children around you) about drugs.
Tips on educating kids about drugs:
1. Talk to them about drugs.
Talk to them about drugs again and again. Having an open dialogue with your children is the most important way for them to learn about drugs and the harm they can cause. Talking to them about it more than once shows them that it is very important to you and should be important for them to look at, too.
2. Start educating children at an early age.
With younger children, your opinion on what’s “bad” and what’s “good” is very important. Teach them which things can help them and which things can harm them. As they get a bit older, you can explain that the things they choose to put into their bodies that aren’t meant to be eaten or taken can make them very sick. You can teach them that drugs harm the body’s natural functions and can be extremely dangerous
Also, at a younger age, talk to them about making good choices for their bodies. Let them know their bodies will help get them anywhere they want to go AND to get there, their body needs to be healthy. Explain how one keeps a body healthy.
3. Research the facts about drugs.
Know the truth yourself so you can be prepared to answer their questions. In our technological age, it’s easy for kids and parents to research the various different drugs and get all the information on them. There are several websites that have detailed education on drugs, such as www.drugfreeworld.org and www.teens.drugabuse.gov are very informative websites where you can also order information, booklets, and dvds. These pages are easy to read and give just the facts – so that you and your children can make your own decisions.
4. Keep an open line of communication.
Let your kids know you are a safe person for them to come to for help. Let them know it is okay for them to tell you what is happening in their lives, good or bad. As they get into junior high and high school, there is often more pressure to try alcohol or take drugs. You can roll play and give them all kinds of different possible scenarios to drill. You can create situations or examples of friends pressuring them, strangers offering them drugs, what might happen at a party, etc. This can help for when things come up in real life, because they will. There will be less of an element of surprise and they will be well prepared with a practiced response in the moment such as, “I’ve heard that that stuff can hurt you or even kill you!”
Please also make sure they have this seared into their brain: A drug dealer or a “friend” selling drugs will tell them ANY and EVERY lie in the book to get that kid to buy or take the drugs. If ANY person that even looks weird and wants to sell or give a kid “candy” or anything, they should be told to just walk away and find and tell their parents.
5. Define addiction for your children.
Tell them that drinking alcohol and using drugs can become a bad habit that is very difficult to control or quit. You can tell them that with some drugs such as opiates and cocaine, addiction can occur the very first time they try it.
6. Define what a drug is for your children.
Drugs are essentially poisons. A little will speed you up, a little bit more will slow you down, and too much will kill you. Drugs can do all sorts of things to the body. Too much of any drug will kill brain cells, kill the liver, or kill the body. All you have to do is look up the side-effects of any drug and you will see the effects it can have on a body.
7. Be strong in your own viewpoint on drugs.
Let your kids know that drugs and alcohol can lead to harming others, not just oneself. Tell them that taking drugs and drinking alcohol can cause fatal accidents.
Explain to your kids that anything taken in excess can be dangerous, including pharmaceutical drugs. Tell them the dangers of taking any drug and explain that even cough medicine or pain relievers in excess can be poisonous to the body.
8. Know your children’s friends.
You can’t protect your child from everything in life as they get older and branch out and discover their independence, but you can help them make the correct decisions regarding who they interact with. Let them know they ensure a better future for themselves and a happier life if they surround themselves with positive, constructive people who share an anti-drug point of view.
9. Talk to your kids about what they see on TV and in movies.
Let your kids know that even though the media glamorizes smoking, drinking and doing drugs, that is not reality. There are serious consequences to all of these activities: regret, remorse, personal pain, prison, murder, theft, sickness, illness, death… TV and movies that glamorize this tend to NOT show the other side of it.
10. Praise your kids for what they do right!
Part of educating your kids is validating them for making positive choices. Praise your children for what they do right. Praise them for taking care of their bodies—for bathing, brushing their teeth, etc. as a smaller child. Praise them for things like eating healthy foods, exercising, and staying drug-free as they get older.
12. If you are abusing drugs yourself, get help.
Abusing drugs or being addicted to drugs yourself can make it very hard to keep your kids away from drugs. Parents who abuse drugs are more likely to have children who abuse drugs. The future can be very bright! By giving the kids of today the truth, they can make educated and informed decisions about drugs and set forth in helping to create a new, safer future.