As parents it is easy to feel overwhelmed by all the different things that we are supposed to teach our children. We know we need to talk to our kids about drugs and alcohol, but when is the right time? The National Red Ribbon Campaign is recognized as the mobilization of communities to take the time to educate our youth and participate in drug prevention activities and they have a few ideas for you!
Talking to our kids about values, making good choices, and understanding their feelings all lead up to having that conversation about the risks with alcohol and drugs. It is a good idea to start conversations about alcohol and drugs in elementary school. If you take the risk of waiting and hoping that they won’t make the choice to use, trying to have that conversation later is much harder and can put additional stress on your family. In fact, our Iowa Youth Survey data states the average age that youth reports having more than a few sips of alcohol is 11-14 years old.
This now leads to the big question, how and what should I talk to my child about when it comes to drugs and alcohol? One of the biggest foundations that you can set with your children that will help with any conversation is open communication. Allow for them to share their feelings and thoughts without judgement. When you begin your conversation about alcohol and drugs, get a feel for what they think and know about drugs and alcohol. This way you can see what they have learned, help them to understand the truth if they are any misperceptions, and build on that foundation of open communication about drugs and alcohol. For more information or how you can get involved with prevention efforts in your community contact Lindsey Elam at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By: Lindsey Elam, Certified Prevention Specialist