Talking Tips: Ages 0-6
When we say TalkSooner, we mean it! Instill information right from the start.
The pre-school ages regard the adults as the most powerful. At no other time in their lives is your approval and opinion as highly prized. Your teachings should be well received during these early years as your child has unconditional devotion.
Here are a few things to remember when teaching your child about your values and starting conversations about substance use:
Be a Good Role Model
Think about your actions and what they say to your child. If you or someone at home smokes, drinks alcohol or takes drugs remember children learn from what they see and may begin to think that smoking, alcohol or drugs are a solution to problems. No matter how careful you think you are, children are often very aware of their parents’ behavior. They could also find drugs and try them - leading to serious problems. Make sure you keep alcoholic drinks out of reach.
Talk About Good Health
Help your child develop healthy habits by showing them how to blow their nose or how to identify healthy foods. When your child asks for the 10th time if they can have a piece of candy, try not to snap! Instead, repeat your reasoning and your rule. "Why can't you have more candy right now? Because too much sugar is bad for your body, and you need to eat healthy foods in order to grow healthy and strong."
Spend Time Together
Studies show that families who eat at least one meal a day together are less likely to use drugs than those who don't. Children are also vulnerable to drug use if they are starved for attention and affection. Make sure you keep telling your child how much you love them, and praise them when they deserve it.
Teach Them How to Say No
If your children can confidently assert themselves and are confident in your values, they will be able to withstand the peer pressure of the preteen and teen years. Listen to them when they state their opinions, and when you disagree, do so politely and respectfully. Kids who constantly hear their parents lash out by saying "Don't you agree with me?" will be more likely to rebellious and less likely to listen to their inner voices and good sense.
Start the Conversation
It is very easy to start the conversation at the dinner table or when they ask a question, but you can also incorporate teachable moments into everyday activities. Here are a few examples:
- Ask children what they think about a TV program or cartoon.
- Discuss how TV/storybook characters are like and unlike people they know.
- Discuss how violence and bad decisions can hurt people.
- Give children honest praise for their attempts to take responsibility for their own good health.