Preventing your children from using drugs
It was a coincidence that just when I completed writing my previous article on how to teach our children to say ‘NO’, I happened to read the shocking news of students as young as 13 years of age of over 50 schools and colleges in Hyderabad were found to be under the influence of drugs. I am sure the scenario is no different in our state. Two specific incidents were quoted in the newspaper I was reading, surprisingly in both the cases the children belonged to a very good family where they had no history of using drugs or alcohol in the family.
It was reported that though the children were aware of the negative impacts of drugs but they did not want to deny their friends and to keep up the relationship or to oblige to their friends, they tried once and gradually it became a habit. Those of you who did not agree with me on teaching children to say no, do you still feel your child should oblige to everything he is being offered without having a thought of his own? Therefore, I strongly believe children should be raised with the ability to take decisions, with the ability to speak affirmatively for one’s thoughts, with the ability to differentiate right from wrong and to achieve this they should be aware of what is right and what is wrong for them.
Most of us do talk about what is right for them but very few of us have the courage of talking about the wrong and the negative impacts, we are afraid that we may pave a way for them to try the wrong. Use of drugs/ alcohol/ smoking etc. are the classic examples of “the wrong” and “not so talked about topics” at home. But let me ask you, if we don’t talk about them and make our children aware that they are not good for them and can have ample negative impacts, how will they know? The only other source for them are their friends and hence they succumb to their unqualified advice and satisfy their curiosity by experimenting.
Children today are exposed to tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs at increasingly younger ages. The media is rife with images that promote smoking and drinking as "cool," fun, and a natural part of life. That's why, more than ever, parents need to talk to their kids about the perils of drugs and help them separate fact from fiction. But how do you get started?
According to experts, it's best to develop an ongoing dialogue with your child -- starting in the preschool years if possible -- and to look for spontaneous, everyday situations, or "teachable moments," in which to lay the groundwork for open, honest communication. The best news? Research shows that children who hear the facts about drugs and alcohol from their parents are significantly less likely to use them. Here's how to begin.
Ages 3 to 5
During the preschool years, children have strong ties to their family and seek their parents' approval. This is a great time to teach kids about good nutrition, proper hygiene, and developing a healthy lifestyle. It's also a good time to help children develop the decision-making and problem-solving skills they'll need later in life. Between the ages of 3 and 5:
Talk to your child about the joys of healthy living. Discuss how good she feels when she's eaten a nutritious meal, gotten enough rest, and taken care of her body. Talk about how a healthy child can run, jump, and play for hours on end.
Allow your child to make some decisions. Whenever possible, let your child make simple choices, such as what to wear or what to have for lunch. Even if his clothes are slightly mismatched, or he asks for peanut butter and jelly yet again, it's important now to reinforce his ability to make decisions.
Encourage your child to be responsible for her health and well-being. Turn chores such as brushing teeth, putting away toys, wiping up spills, and caring for pets into fun experiences your child will enjoy. Break down the activities into manageable steps so that she learns to develop plans and solve problems.
Teach your child about dangerous substances in his environment. Point out poisonous substances in your home, such as bleach or kitchen cleansers, and read the product warning labels out loud to your child. Explain that harmful substances don't always come with such "warnings," and that your child should only ingest a food or prescribed medication that either you, a relative, or other known caregiver has given him.
The strategies to deal with children in the 5-8 age group and above will be explained in the next article of this series.
(The author is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Learning Arena, an e-learning company)