1. Be an active part of their lives
Make sure you set aside time to spend with your kids. Take an interest in their interests and establish a routine for doing things with them. Spending time as a family is important, like eating together every day. When they go out, don’t be afraid to ask where they’re going or who they’ll be with.
2. Listen to your kids
Showing that you’re prepared and willing to listen will help your kids feel more comfortable about listening to you. During a conversation try not to interrupt them or react in a way that will stop whatever you’re discussing. Encourage them to feel comfortable about telling you their problems, and ask for their input on family decisions to show that you value their opinions.
3. Be a role model
When it comes to drugs there’s no such thing as ‘do as I say, not as I do’. If you take drugs yourself you can’t expect your kids to take your advice. It’s important not to underestimate the influence your behaviour has on them, particularly when it comes to alcohol or tobacco, or misuse of medications.
4. Be honest with them
It’s natural that you won’t necessarily know everything about drugs. So while it’s important to be informed, you shouldn’t pretend to have answers to every question. Be prepared to say ‘I don’t know but I’ll find out for you’. If you’re honest and clear about where you stand, your kids will find it easier to be honest with you.
5. Pick your moment
Make sure you pick the right time to discuss drugs with your kids, by looking for natural opportunities as they arise. This might be when you’re all watching TV, or when they’re talking about someone at their school or in their friendship group.
6. Be calm
When it comes to talking about drugs, being calm and rational is important, as well as not overreacting. Make sure not to ridicule or lecture, as this could make future discussions about drugs more difficult and make your kids more resistant to talking about them at all.
7. Avoid conflict
It is difficult to solve a problem where there’s a conflict. Try to see their point of view while encouraging them to understand yours. If a confrontation does develop, stop the conversation and come back to it when you’re both calmer.
8. Keep talking
Once you’ve had a discussion about drugs it’s important to have another. Start talking to your kids about drugs early, and be willing to talk to your kids about the issue at any time.
9. Set clear boundaries
Generally kids expect and appreciate some ground rules. By actively involving them in setting the rules you can encourage them to take more responsibility for sticking to them. Once you’ve decided on these rules, enforce them, and let your kids know the consequences of breaking them.
Discuss and agree to ways your kids will act if they find themselves in situations where drugs are present. For example, let them know that you'll always collect them if they need you to, whatever the hour.
However, make it absolutely clear that you would rather they didn't put themselves in a situation where they are likely to be exposed to drugs in the first place.
10. Focus on positives
Be sure to reward your kids' good behaviour and emphasise the things they do well. Encourage them to feel good about themselves and let them know that they deserve respect and should also respect themselves.