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The issue of drugs and alcohol can be very confusing to young children. If drugs are so dangerous, then why is the family medicine cabinet full of them? And why do TV, movies, music, and advertising often make drug and alcohol use look so cool?
We need to help our kids distinguish fact from fiction. You may be wondering, "When should I be talking to my child about drugs and alcohol?" It's not too soon to begin. National studies show that the average age when a child first tries alcohol is 11 while for marijuana it's 12. Many kids start becoming curious about these substances even sooner!
In today's complex and busy world, it is frustrating how few chances there are to have conversations about drugs with our children. To ensure that you have regular get-togethers with your children, try to schedule regular parent-child rituals and family meetings. Rituals may consist of having meals together at least once or twice a week, playing games, going to the library, or to get ice cream together once a week. These can all be opportunities to help the family catch up and establish better and more open communication that is essential to raising drug-free children.
If your child comes up with a good response, praise him or her. If they don't, offer a few suggestions like, "No, thanks. Let's play with Sony PlayStation instead," or "No thanks. I don't drink beer. I need to keep in shape for basketball."
Another way to talk to your children about drugs is to take advantage of everyday "teachable moments."
If you and your child are walking down the street, and you see a group of teenagers drinking and hanging out, talk about the negative effects of drinking alcohol.
Watch TV with your children and ask them what they think.
Whenever you see an anti-drug commercial on TV, use it as an opening to talk with your children about drugs. Ask them what they think about the commercial.
Most importantly, you can take some simple everyday actions that can make a big difference in children's lives:
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