Salt Lake City parents want what’s best for their kids. They want their children to get good educations, have good friends and avoid many of life’s pitfalls. One of the most common things parents want their children to avoid is substance abuse. Although this is something nearly all parents want for their children, many parents don’t know how to talk about it to their children. Unfortunately, kids are being exposed to tobacco, alcohol and other substances at increasingly younger ages. If you wait until you think they are ready, odds are they will already have heard about it from their peers.

Opening a Channel of Communication

Parents, the most important thing you can do to prepare for the “tough” conversations you will have with your kids is to create a channel of communication. If you children feel they can come to you with anything, odds are you won’t miss the boat when it comes to talking about substance abuse. This communication channel should be created during spontaneous, everyday moments.

What to Do During the Preschool Years

When you child is between the ages of three to five, you should begin having talks about what is healthy for our bodies. Proper nutrition, good hygiene and exercise are all things to talk about at this age. You should start allowing your children to make small decisions, such as clothing choices or food for lunch. It’s important that your child begins learning to decide things for themselves, so they are prepared when tough decisions come up. Focus on teaching your children about the dangerous products in your home like bleach and other cleaners.

When Your Child Is Ages Five to Eight

This is the time when it becomes important to let your child know how you feel about drugs and alcohol. Talk about substance abuse and how it can affect a person’s life. Point out drug-related messaging in media. Make sure your child knows what the family rules are. You should also focus on continuing to build your child’s problem-solving skills.

When Your Child Is Eight and Older

During your child’s preteen and teenage years, peers start to become increasingly more powerful influencers of your child’s decisions. Do what you can to teach your child about the importance of good friends. Set clear boundaries and rules about any form of substance abuse. Don’t teach your children through fear, empower them to make the right decisions with facts.

Your kids are your pride and joy. Protect them from the dangers in the world as much as you can, while preparing them to protect themselves as they grow up. Making the decision to talk to your children about substance abuse is one of the best decisions you’ll ever make. Consider what you can do today to help your kids feel comfortable coming to you with their problems.