Talking To Teenagers About Drugs and Smoking

Since the early 1980s, we’ve heard the “just say no” mantra, and we want to teach it to our kids. But how? Just telling them is probably not enough. Here are some tips for helping your teen say no to drugs and smoking.

A Strong Parent-Child Bond

Parents who are close to their children usually find discipline a lot easier. It’s good to start early, but it’s never too late. Forge or reinforce a close relationship with your teen so that he or she will be more likely to talk to you about his or her drug temptations or even drug use.

A true dialogue goes back and forth; it’s not a lecture. So part of getting close to your teen is listening. Keep your reactions minimal and hear them out. It can go a long way toward helping them trust you.

Be Clear

Sometimes parents can chalk things up to rebellion that really aren’t – the teen may just be floundering and uncertain as to your expectations. So be crystal-clear about what you do expect from him or her.

Instead of saying something like, “It’s not a good idea to do drugs or smoke,” be more specific about what, exactly, constitutes a “drug” (teens are great at finding philosophical loopholes), and outline the specific situations he or she should avoid. Teens are still children in many ways, and many times they need to have things presented in a really clear format.

Watch Their Friends

Sources say that having peers who smoke and use drugs considerably increases a teen’s chance of doing those things himself. Pay attention to those with whom your teens spend time, and if you discover any drug or tobacco use, confront your teen. Experts suggest punishing your teen by eliminating his time with these particular friends, and calling his friends’ parents and letting them know what you saw and why you’re eliminating contact for a time.

Share Your Own Experiences

If you used to smoke or use drugs, talk to your teen about the dangers and how you would not do those things again if you could go back in time. If you are still smoking, experts recommend you stop – and let your teen see how tough quitting is. Don’t be afraid if your teen considers you a hypocrite; letting her in on your life’s details helps get through to her, and your words do matter even if she seems to blow you off.