Raising children is hard work and only gets stronger when the child is a teenager. Adolescence is a time of discovery of who they are, and they will often test their boundaries. That’s why it’s so important to talk to your teen before they start testing their limits on substance use. If they start using drugs or alcohol at a young age and it takes them into dangerous areas, it can lead to very unhealthy behaviors.
That’s why it’s so important to have the conversation, because research has shown that kids who have clear rules about substance use are less likely to have serious problems. As a parent, you can follow tips to make this difficult conversation easier for you and your teen.
Make them aware of your Rules
First, when discussing your teen’s use of alcohol or other drugs, you’ll want to be clear about your rules and the consequences if those rules are broken.
Communicating the rules and consequences clearly will let your teen know where you stand, and ultimately make for a safer child because of the established limits. It also helps when those around him use parents and rules as an excuse to say “no” to force a teenager to try drugs or alcohol.
It is also important to know that you cannot impose a set of rules on your teenager without explaining the reason for the rule.
When you lay out all the restrictions on substance use and give logical reasons, it will help your teen feel like they can have a real conversation between you and an adult. Using the phrase “because I said so” will hurt your conversation with your teenager. They need to feel like they can be open with you and ask questions.
A good rule of thumb when talking to your teenager is to talk to them the way you want to be talked to. Teens may feel that you are neglecting them, and it is important to know that they will make their own decisions about this. If you want them to make the right decisions, treat them like the adult you want them to be.
Let Them Talk and Listen
Another important tip when having this difficult conversation about substance use is to let your teen talk and listen carefully to what he has to say.
It can be easy to fall into the trap of wanting to share as much of your wisdom and knowledge with your teen as possible, but they also need the chance to talk, ask questions, and open up. Allow your teen to express their feelings and concerns.
Giving them a chance to talk can also be helpful in understanding where they are with their knowledge of different substances. “What do you know about alcohol use?” you can use the opportunity to ask questions like The more your teen feels his perspective is valued, the more he’ll be willing to participate in the conversation.
Find out why they can use excess ingredients
During your conversation with your teen, it may become apparent that they are already involved in substance use. When this comes up, it’s important to find justification without judgment.
There are a variety of reasons why a teenager may start using drugs or alcohol to manage anxiety or depression, or to socialize with peers. Showing your interest in reasoning can help them be less judgmental and more inclined to open up. It will also give you a window into your teenager’s life, so you know if they need extra support.
Know how and when to intervene
Finally, if you learn that your teen is already using substances, you should be on the lookout and see if the use worsens. Next, you need to know how and when to intervene.
You want to encourage your teen to be honest and open with you, but you also want to let them know that you will help keep them safe. This may mean that if their use has reached this point, an adolescent may need to look into addiction treatment or seek professional help through a therapist.
Talking to a teenager about substance use is a delicate dance. However, following these tips will help ease the burden and keep communication open and honest with your teen.
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