What you can do to prevent problems
There are many things you can do to prevent problems arising with drugs, alcohol and your child.
Start talking with children over about eight years of age in ways that suit their age and development.
Find out what they know. Schools start introducing the topic of alcohol and drugs in age-appropriate ways from a young age.
Take opportunities as they arise to give accurate, balanced information and to encourage healthy attitudes, especially before they start high school.
Use TV, movies and different scenarios to talk about risks, consequences and options for people.
Spend time building a strong relationship with children before their teen years - be involved in their lives, know their friends and interests.
Get the facts about drugs and alcohol so children see you as a credible source of information.
Teach responsible behaviour - let children practice making choices from an early age.
Older children and teenagers
You can help prevent drug and alcohol problems with older children and teenagers in the following ways:
- be approachable and unfazed - listen to their ideas even if you don’t agree with them
- try not to interrupt or react in ways that stop discussion
- don’t make them worried about telling you things you need to hear
- show them where to get accurate information from reliable sources
- have family rules about alcohol and drugs - make the rules together
- encourage young people’s involvement in activities such as sports and hobbies
- reward responsible behaviour - you could allow your teen to stay out a bit later or have an extra night out
- acknowledge good decisions and help your child learn from their mistakes
- make sure young people can get home safely when they go out - have an emergency plan - eg: a pre-paid mobile phone to call you, or permission to take a taxi and you’ll pay.
You are a role model for your children. Be prepared to look at your own use of alcohol, tobacco, medications and other drugs.