Tips for Parents
When it comes to talking about drugs, extensive research conducted with parents and their children tells us that young people will appreciate your advice and look to you for your views.
But they will expect you to be informed, up front and honest. And, if you show you are listening to them, they are more likely to listen to you.
Ways to encourage young people to talk about drugs with you:
Make sure that you make time for your children. Take an interest in their interests and establish a routine for doing things together. Don’t be afraid to ask where your teenagers are going and who they will be with. Spending time together as a family is important. For example, try to talk and eat together every day and find other opportunities to enjoy time together as a family.
2. Listen to them
Showing a willingness to listen will help your children to feel more comfortable about listening to you. Ask for their input about family decisions to demonstrate that you value their opinions. Try not to interrupt or react in a way that will stop further discussion. Encourage them to feel comfortable about telling you their problems.
3. Be a role model
When it comes to drugs, there is no such thing as “Do as I say, not as I do”. If you take illicit drugs, you can’t expect your child to take your advice. Don’t underestimate the influence your behaviour can have on your children, particularly any use of tobacco or misuse of alcohol and medications.
4. Be honest
It is important to be informed but don’t pretend to know everything. Be prepared to say “I don’t know but I will try and find out”. Be honest and clear about where you stand so that your children will find it easier to be honest with you.
5. Pick your moment
Choose the right time to discuss the topic by looking for natural opportunities as they arise. This might be while watching TV, when talking about someone at school or in response to something that was similarly difficult to talk about.
6. Be calm
Being calm and rational is also important. Don’t overreact. You should keep the lines of communication open and don’t ridicule or lecture. Remember that getting angry will just close the door on further discussion.
7. Avoid conflict
It is difficult to solve a problem when there is conflict. Try to see their point of view and encourage them to understand yours. If a confrontation develops, stop the conversation and return to it as soon as both of you are calmer.
8. Keep on talking
Once you’ve had a discussion, it’s important to have another. Ensure that you are always willing to speak to your children about drugs and start early.
9. Set clear boundaries
Most young people expect and appreciate some ground rules. Allowing them to take part in setting the rules encourages them to take more responsibility for sticking to them. Once you have rules, enforce them and ensure young people know of the consequences of breaking them.
Find and agree to ways young people can act should they find themselves in a situation that exposes them to drugs. For example, let them know that you will always collect them if they need you to, even if it is late at night.
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 illicit drugs.
10. Focus on the positive
Reward your children’s good behaviour and emphasise those things they do well. Encourage them to feel good about themselves and let them know that they deserve respect.