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Talking So Your Kids Will Listen

Drug Facts You Need to Know

Get into the habit of talking with your child every day. The more you know about your child, the easier it will be to guide her toward more positive activities and friendships. As a result, your child will be less likely to experiment with alcohol, tobacco, or illegal drugs. Establishing a close relationship with your child now will make it easier for her to come to you when she has a problem. It’s also important not to be critical. Positive reinforcement and constructive support are more effective in influencing children’s behavior than criticism.

Let’s Start Talking

1. So how well do you know your child? Here’s a quick quiz. Ask your child what the answers are and let him lead you into a longer conversation. You can talk about one question a day or one a week. Think of other questions you can ask one another. Consider making the questions and conversations part of your daily routine.

1. Who is your child’s best friend?

2. What are the names of your child’s teachers? Who is your child’s favorite teacher? Do you know why?

3. Who are some of your child’s role models? What does he admire about those individuals?

4. What would your child wish for if she saw a falling star?

5. What is your child’s favorite movie or TV show?

6. What three words would your child use to describe himself? To describe you?

7. What are your child’s hobbies?

8. What are your child’s future goals?

Check with your child to see how well you did on the quiz.

2. Set aside a few minutes a day. Talk about problems or challenges that might have come up during the day and discuss how you handled, them. Ask your child for his ideas on simple matters to help him build problem-solving skills. These skills can help him resist peer pressure to use alcohol and drugs to solve problems.

3. Validate your child’s feelings. Sometimes, children react to situations in ways we think are inappropriate, silly, or overdramatic. That’s because children don’t have the benefit of our adult experience. What is minor to us may be very important to them.

4. Practice active listening. When you show interest in what your child has to say, she will open up. One technique to show you’re listening and understanding is to paraphrase what your child tells you. For example, your child says, “I like playing soccer, but practice is the same time as my favorite show on TV.” You might say, “Wow, that’s a tough choice. On one had, you really like playing soccer; on the other hand, you don’t want to miss your favorite show.”

5. Ask questions. Children have a lot to share when they think their opinions matter. Ask for your child’s input about family decisions. These decisions may range from what to have for dinner to where to go for a family outing. Showing your interest in her opinion will make your child feel more comfortable about opening up to you. If you are successful in establishing open lines of communication with your child about day-to-day events, he will be more likely to seek our input on more serious issues as well.