As children enter high school their chances of being offered alcohol, marijuana, prescription medications and other drugs increase. As the risk grows, it’s important to have frequent, positive and open conversations with our kids about the choices they face. If you don’t feel comfortable or confident talking to your child about the topic, you’re not alone. Parents of teens often ask themselves … How do I know what to tell them? What do I do if they don't even talk to me? How do I get them to care; to be responsible?

Here are some important techniques to remember when speaking with your children about alcohol, marijuana, prescription medications and other drugs:

Here are Some Ways to Keep Teens Talking.

Listen with an open mind
A teen’s ideas and opinions deserve consideration. Embracing your child’s point of view and taking it seriously encourages them to see that your advice is based on true understanding.
Respond to the present moment
Focus on what your child is saying now, not what they’ve said in the past, what you think he or she should be saying, or what you believe.
Keep it informal
Meal times, in the car doing errands, or other activities you may do with your teen are great times to talk.
Ask open-ended questions
Get teens thinking and talking rather than giving them opportunities for a simple yes or no.

Communication Stopper Alert!

Accusations
“I know you’re drinking.”
Interruptions
“I don’t want to hear your excuses.”
Prior Agenda
“I want to get to the bottom of your lies.”
(Deciding what’s going to be discussed before your child has a chance to talk)
Rushing
“Remember, no alcohol or drugs. Have a good time at the party.”

“Will there be drinking at the party?”

“If there’s drinking at the party, what will you do?”

“Have you ever tried marijuana?”

“What do you think about marijuana and kids who use it?”

“Do any of your friends do drugs?”

“If your friends wanted to try a drug, how would you handle that?”

“You need to think for yourself.”

“What’s the hardest thing you deal with when it comes to just being yourself around your friends?”

Recognize the importance of follow-up questions

Kids have a lot on their minds. Asking follow-up questions helps your message stick. Things like …. “Now tell me again what you do if you go to a party where a lot of people are using drugs?” Follow-up questions are important because they:

  • Help create accountability
  • Show you have a genuine concern for the end result
  • Create opportunities to extend your conversation
  • Offer another way to check in and stay connected

Making Views and Rules Clear

“Never get in a car with someone who is drunk or high.”

“If you’re ever in a situation where you have to choose between getting in a car with someone who has been drinking or using drugs, and calling me, I want you to know you can call me and I’ll come get you with no questions asked.”