Me in a Tree

Archive for March, 2014


 newsletter 30 no


The main reason that children don’t abuse drugs, alcohol or tobacco is because they have been raised in a supportive home, and they understand the positive influence that parents have in their lives. This is why it is so important that parents build a solid relationship with their child from an early age. As part of building that relationship, parents must have a discussion with their kids about substance abuse. The earlier this conversation happens, the better. Here are six tips to help you build that relationship and open this conversation.

Tip #1: Establish good communication. Opening up the lines of communication allows your child to feel more comfortable coming to you to talk about things. This also allows you to get to know your child, and the better you know your child, the better you will be able to guide them to choose positive activities and peers.

Tip #2: Get involved in your children’s lives. Your children will be less likely to participate in alcohol, drug or tobacco abuse when they feel like there is someone who cares and is involved in their lives. You can do this by talking with your children every day, spend time doing activities that they enjoy, or supporting them.

Tip #3: Set rules, and enforce them. Be careful to strike a balance here. If there are no rules, children have no boundaries, or sense of right or wrong. As well, if rules are too strict, children might feel compelled to rebel against those rules. Discuss your rules with your child. Ensure that they understand why you set the rules you did. If a rule is broken, be sure to enforce them with consequences.

Tip #4: Be a positive role model. Children are the world’s greatest imitators. They see how you act, they hear the words you say, they see how you react, and they appropriate those behaviors and start displaying them. To be a positive role model in this situation, demonstrate positive ways to relieve stress, and admit when you behaved inappropriately.

Tip #5: Help your children choose their friends. Peers have the greatest influence on children once they grow out of childhood and into adolescence. If your children are interacting with people who do not engage in risky behavior, it is likely that they will not engage either.

Tip #6: Talk to your children about drugs and alcohol. This may be an uncomfortable conversation, but being open about it reduces the chances that your children will be involved in drugs or alcohol abuse. Start as early as possible and have the conversation multiple times to ensure the message is received. Try role playing techniques or simple one-on-one conversations. However you decide to convey the message, the important part is that you do talk to your children about drug and alcohol abuse, and you talk to them often about it.


mom and kid talking

Parent-child communication works the same way any other communication does. Communication involves sending and receiving messages. How those messages are send and/or received helps determine the effectiveness of the communication. Ensuring that communication with children is as effective as possible, it is important that it remains open. When communication is good and open, relationships are given the opportunity to flourish. It serves to benefit every member of the family, and the skills gained from good communication will last forever.


Start Young

The earlier you start communicating with your child, the better. Make yourself available to your children when they have questions or want to talk. Not only that, but giving your child love, respect, and acceptance will increase your chance of creating a relationship that fosters open communication.


Active listening is a skill that takes discipline and focus to master; however, it is so important to showing your children love and respect. You show that you are interested in your child’s life. Make eye contact and maintain it. This shows that you are involved and interested in their story. Take away as many distractions as you can. The television, phone and other interruptions can distract you from fully engaging with your child. Minimize those distractions to ensure that you give your child the proper amount of attention he deserves. Be slow to speak. Sometimes, parents are too quick to offer their opinions and advice, and they run the risk of being misunderstood. Listen, then speak.

Schedule Family Meetings

In the midst of busy schedules, family time can be hard to come by. However, scheduling it in to your day and week will give you an opportunity to connect with your family on a regular basis. Scheduling time to talk with your family is a very useful communication tool as it can allow your family to talk about day-to-day things, major issues or anything. This time gives every member of the family to voice their opinions without judgement.

Be Careful During Conflict

Conflict in relationships is inevitable. How you handle conflict can help determine the effectiveness of relationship. Good communication is the best way to handle conflict in a positive way. Solve one problem at a time. Deal with conflict in small, manageable steps, and talk every step out with your child. When you talk to each other, use “I” messages. Phrases like “I feel frustrated” or “I am glad that” tells the other person how you feel rather than blaming them.


Avoid Negative Communication

Sometimes, negative communication patterns weave their way into conversation unexpectedly. Look out for nagging and lecturing. You generally don’t need to tell your child to do something more than once. Be careful about interrupting and criticizing. Avoid using guilt or sarcasm – this tends to make your child feel worse and increases the potential that your child will be closed off in the future.

Use Communication Builders

Ask questions and be open-minded. Use phrases like “I’m interested” or “Would you like to talk about it?” or “I understand.” These questions open communication, maintain respect and build relationships.