Children today are exposed to tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs at increasingly younger ages. The media is rife with images that promote smoking and drinking as "cool," fun, and a natural part of life. That's why, more than ever, parents need to talk to their kids about the perils of drugs and help them separate fact from fiction. But how do you get started?
According to experts, it's best to develop an ongoing dialogue with your child -- starting in the preschool years if possible -- and to look for spontaneous, everyday situations, or "teachable moments," in which to lay the groundwork for open, honest communication. The best news? Research shows that children who hear the facts about drugs and alcohol from their parents are significantly less likely to use them. Here's how to begin.
During the preschool years, children have strong ties to their family and seek their parents' approval. This is a great time to teach kids about good nutrition, proper hygiene, and developing a healthy lifestyle. It's also a good time to help children develop the decision-making and problem-solving skills they'll need later in life. Between the ages of 3 and 5:
As children enter school and spend more time around their peers, they become more influenced by the media and world around them. They're open now to new ideas and messages but definitely need your help to make sense of all this information. Between the ages of 5 and 8:
During the tween and preteen years, children may begin to assert their independence and question your authority, but they need your input and advice more than ever. In fact, when it comes to the issue of drug use, this is one of the most important times in a child's life. Beginning at age 8:
Sources: Partnership for a Drug-Free America; The Nemours Foundation; American Academy of Pediatrics
The information on this Web site is designed for educational purposes only. It's not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your pediatrician or family doctor. Please consult a doctor with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your or your child's condition.