Parenting is the difficult mixture of teaching children about what’s right and making sure you’re doing what’s right as well.

Teaching kids about substance abuse and addiction is something that just makes your job as a parent that much harder. Whether your children have already been exposed to substance abuse or they’ve never had to deal with it in their lives, you need to be aware that they are always in danger.

Because the things that kids see and hear in their early years pave the path for the rest of their lives, it’s important that you approach your kids about drug use at some point (earlier rather than later).

Approach It Like You Would an Illness

There are many people who are struggling from the extremely harmful consequences of substance abuse. These are people who deserve our respect as well as our help and attention.

In order to avoid prejudice in your children against those who may need our help, you should approach drug addiction as you would a dangerous disease. Explain that those who fall into the habit of abusing drugs are in danger of losing their lives, but also need our help in overcoming their addiction.

If you turn your child into a helper of people in need of recovery (instead of someone who fears/hates drugs and drug users alike), they’re much more likely to grow into strong, responsible adults who stay away from drugs.

Be Aware of Teaching Moments

All teachers know (and so do most parents) that children learn by visual example. Things that happen throughout the day to a child stick with them for a long time. If you, as a parent, recognize moments in a child’s life that will make beneficial lessons, then you need to take advantage of those moments.

Teach your child in comparison to things that actually happen to them. If one of their favorite cartoon characters makes a joke or says something even remotely associated with harmful substances, turn that moment into a teaching moment (you may regret not doing so). After all, before you know it, you’ll blink and your baby will be all grown up.