Sunday, July 8, 2012


I know you're thinking "what?"  While you may not think about sitting your preschooler down to talk about drugs, it is a good idea.  Our children are exposed to drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes at a young age.  (I started talking to my girls when they were 4)

Since the foundation for all healthy habits — from nutrition to toothbrushing— is laid down during the preschool years, this is a great time to set the stage for a drug-free life.  So how do you talk to your 4-year-old about drugs and these other substances?   The Partnership at Drug Free.Org gives 7 tips to help you work with your preschooler, so he/she will grow up happy, healthy, and drug free:
  • Talk to your child about the joys of healthy living. Explain the importance of taking good care of our bodies – eating right, exercising and getting a good night’s sleep. Discuss how good you feel when you take care of yourself — how you can run, jump, play and work for many hours. A great conversation starter: "I'm glad I'm healthy because I can…"
  • Celebrate your child's decision-making skills. Whenever possible, let your child choose what to wear. Even if the clothes don't quite match, you are reinforcing your child's ability to make decisions.
  • Stress the need for your child to take personal responsibility for his own health, well-being and personal environment. Your instructions should be concrete, related to your child's experiences, and stated positively. Turn chores like brushing teeth, putting away toys, wiping up spills, and caring for pets into fun experiences that your child will enjoy. Break the activities down into manageable steps so that your child learns to develop plans.
  • Help your child steer clear of dangerous substances that exist in her immediate world. Point out poisonous and harmful chemicals commonly found in homes, such as bleach, kitchen cleansers and furniture polish. Read the products' warning labels out loud to your child. Explain that she should only eat or smell food or a prescribed medicine that you, a relative or other known caregivers give to her. Also, explain that drugs from the doctor help the person the doctor gives them to but that they can harm someone else.
  • Help your child understand the difference between make-believe and real life. Preschoolers give meaning to things they don't understand in order to make sense of their world — but their meaning doesn't necessarily reflect the real world. Ask your child what he thinks about a TV program or story. Let your child know about your likes and dislikes. Discuss how violence or bad decisions can hurt people.
  • Turn frustration into a learning opportunity. If a tower of blocks keeps collapsing during a play session, work with your child to find possible solutions to the problem.
  • Tell your child how proud you are of her when she helps you with things. There's never a bad time to give your child a boost of self-esteem.
But what is the best way to start the conversation with your 4-year-old. Below are several scenarios, that can get the conversation started:

Scenario Giving your child a daily vitamin.

What to Say
Vitamins help your body grow. You need to take them every day so that you’ll grow up big and strong like Mommy and Daddy—but you should only take what I give you. Too many vitamins can hurt you and make you sick, and never take vitamins from a friend or someone you don't know.

Scenario Your kids are curious about medicine bottles around the house.

What to Say
You should only take medicines that have your name on them or that your doctor has chosen just for you. If you take medicine that belongs to somebody else, it could be dangerous and make you sick.  (And again, stress the importance of NOT accepting any medicine from friends or strangers.)

Scenario Your child sees an adult smoking and, since you’ve talked about the dangers of smoking, is confused.

What to Say
Grownups can make their own decisions and sometimes those decisions aren’t the best for their bodies. Sometimes, when someone starts smoking, his or her body feels like it has to have cigarettes—even though it’s not healthy. And that makes it harder for him or her to quit.

How young is too young to talk about drugs?



Coretta said...

Thank you so much for this post! As a Mom this was and will continue to be very helpful. It's unfortunate that we need to start talking to our children at such a young age but it does need to be done.

Carrie said...

Even though I do not have children, my younger sister is 8 and I am shocked at how much more she is exposed to at her age then I was at her age. I don't think it is ever too young to start having this particular conversation, as long as it is with wording that is age appropriate.

Pepper Tan said...

I guess it's never too early to talk to our kids about such pressing issues. There are ways to make them understand, it seems. Thanks for sharing how we can talk to our little ones about saying "no" to drugs.

Barb W. said...

Really helpful and solid advice! I think in today's world, sadly, it's never too early for a parent to take preventative steps through education... and it's oh-so-necessary. Working in the school system, I see children at very young ages dealing with very adult issues. If we are prepared to help guide them, they are in a much better place should an event occur. Terrific post!

Momfever said...

I would think 4 is very young. I wonder if they understand what you're talking about?

Annmarie Pipa said...

yes..the questions my kids ask me are astounding! they certainly are not seeing or hearing that stuff in this house! it is a world gone mad....I think our example is what matters most.

Lilianadrxd said...

yes..the questions my kids ask me are astounding! they certainly are not seeing or hearing that stuff in this house! it is a world gone mad....I think our example is what matters most.

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