Books are not just meant for children to learn about academic concepts, but also for them to develop character. One of the ways to do this is to educate them early on about the negative effects of substance abuse through reading and other means.
If you are a parent, it may be quite a temptation to go through an easy route–to shelter your children from the realities of this world, crossing your fingers that they won’t encounter negative influences in their lives. However, this approach can be like a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Although they can be safe as long as you keep your eye on them, children also have their environments that are outside the home. This is why educating your children about “the real world” is so crucial as they grow up.
One of the most dangerous things that children may encounter once they reach pre-teen or teenage years are drugs. According to recent statistics, even children as young as 8th, 10th or 12th graders are experimenting on different substances that may develop further into substance abuse and addiction. The problem seems so difficult to resolve, rather than creating preventative measures to avoid it altogether.
As a parent, what can you do to help your children become aware of the dangers of drugs? What are effective ways, through education and other means, can you help them steer clear of this influence?
Effective ways to teach your children to say no to drugs
1. Read them interesting books about saying no to substance abuse.
Although it is difficult to make young children understand, there are actual story books that discuss the sensitive topic of substance abuse. Perhaps you have a family member suffering from substance addiction that you want to explain to your child. There are an ample amount of books for such situations.
There are also general books that discuss substance use to children in a language that’s safe for certain ages. They also help explain terms in a simple manner that may be comprehensible depending on the age group provided. These educational materials are vital for children to get an idea of what the problem is, to increase their awareness, and find ways to rise above related situations that they may encounter in the future.
2. Give them “The Talk”.
It is important to have open communication when it comes to educating children about drugs and other harmful substances. When these things are not discussed at home, children tend to find information through other sources such as their friends or the internet. Although this topic may be uncomfortable for your child or even yourself, you have to take responsibility as a parent to tell them about how people can get lured into experimentation and eventually, abuse.
If you are familiar with a story of someone who has been through substance abuse, how they suffered, and had a hard time recovering, it can be helpful. Some children will tend to ignore facts, but they won’t pass up on actual experiences that happen to others. If you personally have gone through a period of substance abuse, you may, at the right age and discretion, share the information with your child. This type of sharing can foster a culture of openness and vulnerability between your relationship.
3. Give some guided exposure for others to share their experiences.
If you feel like you need to take things a notch further, or if you have noticed that your child has a predisposition to substance use and abuse, you may, at the right age, be able to bring them in places where they can listen to other people’s experiences with substance abuse.
Around the ages of 13-17, children are less likely to share their experiences and feel more uncomfortable talking about touchy subjects. This is why as mentioned earlier, you have to open up the conversation as early as you think is wise about the topic of drugs, especially if this is something that affects your family. Around the teenage years, a great way for them to understand what others go through in a deeper level is by going to events held by drug rehab centers, or accompanying them in share-a-story encounters with people who want to educate against drugs.
4. Be an example.
Lastly and most importantly, it is best to set an example towards your children about drugs. Do not mock, ridicule, or take substance abuse subjects as a topic of light jokes in front of your children. If you have suffered from substance abuse in the past, staying sober for yourself and your kids are the best ways to help them avoid falling on the same path. If children come to know you as someone to be respected, they will more than likely follow your example.
As you ponder on these strategies to guide your children against drugs, remember than education and experience go hand-in-hand. Do your best in situations you can control, and give enough trust to your kids that they will make wise decisions in life.