Racism is a nasty tradition that has permeated cultures and nations across the globe for centuries. Over the past century, tremendous progress has been made in the fight against racism and discrimination against people with different skin colour and ethnicity. Substance abuse and the assortment of addictive drugs available to youngsters in this day and age however, do not discriminate. Today children are exposed to drugs from many sources. The media is full of images of alcohol, cigarettes and images where these kinds of things are natural or even cool. Drugs can be found in schools and not only the high schools but the primary schools where the younger kids are even more vulnerable.
So how do you talk to your child about drugs?
Start as early as pre-school to help build strong communication and develop dialogue with your child. There is research that shows if a child is educated by their parents about drugs and alcohol; they are less likely to use it themselves. The more information a child has on the subject the more prepared they will be if presented with a situation where drugs are involved. The rehabs in Cape Town are filled with young people of all races that have problems with substance abuse.
Help the child understand how drugs affect the body and mind. Show them the link between using drugs and how this can produce violence and crime. Seeing that there are real consequences will help to make it more real for them. You are also a role model for your kids and being well informed and having your own view on drugs will definitely have a tremendous influence on your child.
How to talk about drugs
To your pre-schooler:
- Use ‘teachable moments’ for instance, if there is a tobacco advert on the television talk about smoking and how it can affect the body.
- When talking to a child use easy to understand terms and words.
- Re-inforce the ability to make decisions, things like choosing what to wear will help the child be able to make their own choices in future.
- Encourage your child and be an example of healthy living
- Be calm and approachable and establish yourself as somebody who will answer a question no matter how difficult. Later when there are more serious questions, you will be easier to approach and the child will feel safe asking any question.
- Teach your child about dangerous substances in the house like bleach. Help them to understand that is important to only eat or drink food that that is safe and to only take food from somebody they know well.
Ages 8 to 12 years:
- As they get older try to ask them their opinions on drugs, being non-judgemental will help your child to give honest answers.
- A child has more understanding and reasoning at this age so you can discuss the rules and consequences about using drugs.
- Help with self-esteem by praising your child for his/her efforts at school and home. A child can be insecure and vulnerable at any age, and this could increase the chances of peer pressure.
- Discuss how they can say no by offering scenarios and allowing the child to give their own response. Praise them for good answers or provide them with an alternative answer that is easy to remember.
- Encourage your child to participate in healthy activities like sports or hobbies, this will help to get rid of boredom and keep their minds and bodies busy.
- Make sure you plan a talk when it comes to anything important, if they can set the time for a discussion themselves they will be more engaged in the conversation.
- Several Cape Town rehabs offer talks and workshops to educate kids before problems arise.
- Try to avoid accusations, but ensure they know the rules and consequences of breaking any.
- Since at this age many teenagers would have already been exposed to drinking or drugs it is important to talk to your kids.
- Let them speak and listen to them. Allow them to talk about their feelings. Keep an open dialogue.
- Seek professional help if you find that there is actually a problem.
No family is immune to exposure to alcohol or drug abuse issues, but there are ways that can help them resist any temptation that comes their way. Make sure you nurture their self-confidence, provide a safe-environment for them and just be involved in your child’s lives.
Try to stay connected as a family and do things that are fun together. The most important thing to do is, keep an open communication with yourself and your child throughout their lives.