How to Talk to Youth
Children should understand that cannabis, like other prescription drugs, is a powerful medicine for adults. While it can be used to treat many symptoms, disorders and diseases safely, it is not harmless- especially for teens. Here are a few facts from the National Institute of Health that can be helpful to share with your children:
Here are some further helpful tips on talking to minors about cannabis:
Timing is Important
Start the conversation with your child when you are both relaxed, unhurried, and in positive mindsets. A pop culture reference, whether it’s a situation on a TV show or a song playing on the radio, can be an easy jumping off point to gauge their understanding and begin a deeper conversation.
Silence is Golden
Don’t assume to know your child’s perspective or experience with cannabis. Ask open-ended questions and allow them to open up before sharing your opinions.
Establish your expectations with your child around cannabis and the ramifications if they are disobeyed. Make sure you both understand the rules and make it clear that they are ultimately for your child’s health and safety.
Put Yourself in Their Shoes
Curiosity, peer pressure, and a desire to belong are a few common reasons kids use cannabis. Other risk factors include those with untreated mental health disorders, individuals who have experienced trauma, or other family members with addiction problems. Identifying your child’s pressure points at home, at school, and with friends, allows you to identify healthy outlets for their expression. Encourage your child to pursue hobbies and interests that they truly enjoy, and which immerse them in a supportive and caring community.
Drive it Home
Make sure to mention the dangers of driving under the influence of cannabis and other drugs. Teens should understand that someone, including themselves, could be seriously injured or even killed in an accident, and that under no circumstances should they ever ride in a motor vehicle with an impaired driver.
Try not to be overly alarmist when talking to your child about cannabis. It's probable that some of their teachers, friends' parents, or even sick peers their own age use cannabis as part of a health regimen. Make sure your child knows that not all use is irresponsible or dangerous.
Encourage your child to talk to you about any drug use they see around them - whether it’s cannabis, alcohol, pharmaceuticals, or other substances. Make an effort to know the peers your children are hanging out with, as well as their parents. Stay informed on their performance at school and other activities. Most importantly, stay connected and keep an open dialogue with your children about their daily lives.