Discussing Drugs and Smoking with Children

The one thing you really want to remember is to actually talk to you child about drugs and smoking. Sometimes I think we depend on what the school teaches or ads or things they see on TV to help them learn what they need to know. Actually they need to learn directly from their parents what your attitude is toward drugs and smoking.

So, share your thoughts. Share your thoughts. Share your thoughts, and not only talk to kids, but ask them what they think. In fact, start with asking what they think about the idea of smoking cigarettes. Ask them what they think when people take drugs that they shouldn’t be taking. If you do that, you’ve got a dialogue going and you’ve got a lot more communication happening between you and your child than if you just give a lecture and then say, “Now I’ve told you. Don’t do it.” It’s not going to work. The just say no doesn’t work. You need a dialogue. You need a relationship around these topics so that your kids know they can come to you with a question because you’ve already laid the groundwork with a conversation rather than just a telling.

And then be sure that you are modeling what you want your kids to know. If you don’t want them to smoke cigarettes, don’t smoke cigarettes. If you don’t want them to do illicit drugs, don’t do drugs yourself. That seems a little bit obvious, but it’s amazing how many people are out there saying don’t do drugs to their kids and actually engaging in too much alcohol intake or too much prescription drug intake. So, do what you ask your kids to do, and don’t do what you ask your kids not to do. And keep that dialogue going.

Every year it would be a good idea to go back to this conversation. So, maybe you want to just set it up at the Fourth of July you talk about drugs and alcohol with your kids and smoking so that you know that you’re keeping up with their developmental phase. Their understanding of these topics changes as they grow, so you need to do this on a regular basis. Don’t think that one talk is going to do the deal. You really have to keep engaged. And then, trust your kids. Any time that they show good judgment, give them heartfelt appreciation. “When you show such good judgment, I feel incredibly proud of you because it shows me how grown up you’re getting and what a good thinker you are.” That’s the best way to get good behavior out of kids, heartfelt appreciation for the good stuff.