Reaching millions of Americans each year through community events and schools, Red Ribbon Week is the nation’s oldest and largest drug prevention program. Schools nationwide are participating in activities highlighting the benefits of being drug-free. There are essay and poster contests, red drug-free decorations, parades and other community events. Nonetheless, there is nothing more important than parents talking to their children about the dangers of drug use.
According to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, children who have had a conversation with their parents about drugs are 50 percent less likely to use them. Surveys done by the DEA have proven that children are listening to their parents. Parents just have to start the conversation.
Often times, it is hard to find the words. In other instances, parents just don’t want to believe the conversation is needed. Parents know the dangers of drugs mixed with peer pressure pose substantial risk for children of any age.
There are several resources that will help parents, especially working mothers and fathers, in having the conversation with their children about drugs. It is necessary to start talking to children as early as preschool about the dangers of drug abuse.
According to Kidshealth.org, parents want to begin talking about over the counter medicines and prescription antibiotics and how to use these items responsibly at the preschool level. At this age, children are also easily influenced by cartoon characters. Unfortunately, cartoons are used to advertise cigarettes and alcohol. With this in mind, parents have the advantage of using these opportunities as teaching tools to warn about the dangers of smoking and alcohol addiction.
Getting the conversation started
- Have plenty of information handy: brochures and handouts that highlight the effects of drug use can be helpful in getting the point across to kids.
- Communication is the key. Parents have to be willing to have an open dialogue about drugs in order to put kids and teens at ease about discussing such a sensitive topic.
- Be honest. If your child asks about your personal drug use, take this time to be role model for your child whether you did use drugs or not. Create an anecdote that could provide insight into the benefits and dangers of drug and alcohol abuse.
- Kids need to know how to turn down drugs. Try role playing different scenarios.
Parents, have the conversation with your child tonight.