Many parents find it hard to imagine a world where middle school students are exposed to substances. Unfortunately, that’s life. Students are finding themselves exposed to substances earlier than ever before, and if you are a parent of a newly minted middle school student, it’s only natural to wonder what you can do to prevent substance abuse in your child.
If you are a parent who wants to prevent substance abuse in your middle school child, using these tips can make the conversation about drug use easier.
- Consider using a television show as a way to segue into the drug discussion. Many television shows now accurately portray drug usage as a non-glamorous, emotionally draining problem, including the hit show 13 Reasons Why. If your child is a fan of teen dramas, using one of their favorite shows to break the ice about drug use can be a smart move.
- Another option is to use stories in the news as a way to talk about substance abuse. A good way to broach the subject is to point out stories of addiction and how they negatively affect the addict, then explain why substance use can cause that behavior.
- Ask your child questions, but don’t judge the answers they give you. Most children, especially teens and pre-teens, are worried about having parents judge them or punish them for their opinions, decisions, or experiences. If you want to have an open dialogue with your child, you need to make it clear that you won’t judge them. Instead, focus on offering them help and answering questions.
- Talk to your child like an adult. Middle school students do not enjoy patronizing speeches, and detest being treated like “just kids.” To really get your point across to your child, make sure that you talk to them the same way you’d talk to a colleague.
- Explain the consequences of substance abuse, without exaggerating. Kids can tell when parents are trying to scare them with hyperbole. To maintain trust, it’s important to make sure you’re not exaggerating what can happen if they choose to abuse substances.
Though it can be nerve-wracking to come up with anything to say to your children regarding drug use, it’s important to still say something. Statistics show that parents who have any discussion about substance use have children who are less likely to use substances when they’re older. So, no matter what, try to talk to your child. It can and will help.