When should I start talking to my kids about drugs?

It’s never too early to start talking about drugs. Just make sure you speak at their level, in a way that is both easy for them to understand and related to their real life and experiences at their age. With very young children, in preschool and early elementary grades, spend a lot of time talking about the importance of staying healthy and ways they can stay healthy (i.e. exercise, healthy foods, and only taking medicine from their parent or that a doctor prescribes for them).

As children get closer to middle school, it will be important to start discussing what they might see and hear among other students in their school and how to handle various situations. You can role-play with them, where you take the role of a friend asking them to try a cigarette, alcohol or other drugs and they practice what they might say.

Teens need more detailed and sophisticated messages. It also helps if you ask for their opinions. Yeah, we know teens don’t answer questions with more than one or two words, but if you ask more specific and detailed questions on topics that are of interest and important to them it might open the door into their world a little wider. And it won’t seem like “another lecture from mom and dad.”

For more detailed tips about talking to your kids about drugs at every age, visit http://www.drugfree.org/Parent/YourChild.