Speaking to children aged four to eight is much different than speaking with adults. The information appropriate for an 18-year-old is different from that for a four-year-old. The conversations must be age-appropriate.
Unfortunately, some parents avoid speaking to their children about drugs and alcohol because they assume they are too young or won’t understand, or it will make them more curious. This is not true, as speaking with our young children about drugs and alcohol is the best way to help prevent early experimentation with these substances.
Have the Conversation at a Young Age
Parents significantly influence their young child’s attitudes and decisions about alcohol and drugs. However, the conversations must be age-appropriate. For example, a young person goes through many different stages growing up.
Conversations with teens and older children are more detailed and informative. A discussion with a child aged four to eight utilizes language and examples they would understand.
Having a conversation at a young age is critical. Studies have shown that children who drink are more likely to be victims of violent crime and be involved in alcohol-related traffic crashes. In addition, they have serious school-related problems. The sooner we can educate, the better it prevents.
Tips to Speak to Young Children About Drugs and Alcohol
Consider some of the following conversation starters:
- Some adults choose to use alcohol responsibly, yet taking too much or when you are too young will damage your health and make you sick.
- Most drugs are illegal, and the police could come to arrest you for buying, using, or selling them.
- Drugs and alcohol cause long-term damage to the body and brain.
- Drugs and alcohol become addictive, making it difficult to stop using.
During these conversations, find teachable moments, and utilize age-appropriate educational materials. Overall, keep a calm tone and use terms your child can understand.
Finally, teach them how to say no if someone offers them something they know is dangerous. Explain to them that only their parents can give them medication when sick. Medication is kept in the house to help people who are sick. Yet, it can also be dangerous if too much is taken.