Between the ages of four and seven is when you’ll want to lay the ground work for future discussions that are more intense and likely to be more personal. At this age you’ll want to give them the opportunity to ask questions but not scare them with too much information. This is the age when children are most curious about things and when they have questions you need to be available to have discussions with them – even if they are not very long!
For example, you won’t want to be showing them pictures of a crack addict at his worst. Instead, look for ways to talk to them in a casual manner. They’ll think they brought the subject up themselves if you do it right! Be open to teachable moments and you’ll be able to take advantage of opportunities to talk to your younger children without scaring them.
Make sure to use terms that your children can understand. Talk with them – don’t talk down to them. Talk about feelings and facts. Do some research. You need to know what you are talking about yourself before you can convey accurate information.
Some teachable moments to be aware of:
- Television viewing
- Listening to music
- Situations when you are out – on the street, at the mall, at school
- Advertising – filled with teachable moments!
- Family events
- Field trips
When you are talking to younger children about drugs you don’t have to be explicit. It can be as simple as talking about feelilngs and emotions and finding solutions. A lot of the time kids start doing drugs because they don’t know how to handle life. Feelings like anger and confusion are difficult and drugs are an easy way out. They may not feel like they can talk to their parents so they talk to their friends instead.
When you start having honest and open conversations that do not make your child feel judged from early on, you can have better conversations later when you need to have them. Most kids want to be able to talk to their parents but if they feel judged or put on the spot or labeled they will turn to other sources to get information.