It’s important that children feel comfortable discussing things with their parents. Sometimes a parent may feel awkward or unsure about discussing drugs with their children; however there are ways to make it easier. Here are some tips from the Department of Health and Ageing.
Make time for your kids. Take an interest in their lives and spend time together as a family.
Show them that you’re willing to listen, and they will be more willing to listen to you. Ask for their input – this will show them that you value their opinion. Try not to interrupt or react in a way that will put them off further discussion.
Be a role model to your kids. When it comes to drugs, a parent can not say “Do as I say, not as I do”. If you use drugs or alcohol, your children will view this behaviour as acceptable. Don’t underestimate the influence your behaviour can have on your children. This also goes for smoking. May 31 is World No Tobacco Day – if you’re a smoker, why not use this as the perfect opportunity to quit?
Be honest about what you know and what you don’t know. Be prepared to admit you don’t know something but that you’re willing to find out. If you’re honest about where you stand, your kids will be more comfortable about being honest with you.
Choose the right time to talk by looking for opportunities as they arise. This might be while you’re watching TV, while you’re talking about another friend or family member or in response to another topic that has been brought up.
Remember to stay calm. If you become angry or irrational you will close any lines of communication you may have opened, and will only deter your child from further discussion.
Try your best to see their point of view, and encourage them to see yours. If a fight erupts, put an end to the discussion until things have cooled down.
Keep the lines open. Once you’ve started talking about drugs, keep talking about it. Let your kids know that you’ll always be there to listen to them.
Make the rules. Encourage your whole family to be involved in the rule-making process, as this will make your children more likely to respect and adhere to any boundaries that are set. Let them know what the consequences are if rules are broken.
Help your child work out a way to react if they find themselves in a situation that exposes them to drugs. Tell them that you will always come and get them if they need you to, no matter what the time.
Stay positive. Reward your child’s good behaviour and show them you are proud of things they do well. Encourage them to feel goo about themselves and show them that they deserve respect.
For more information or access to support services call the National Drugs Campaign Information Line on freecall 1800 250 015.