How to talk with high school students.

High school is a pivotal time in a child’s life. As teenagers, they are figuring out who they are, what they like, and what they want to do for their next steps.

It’s also a crucial time for parents to help their children make positive choices when faced with drugs and alcohol. High school students will already have some information, either from school or friends. But don’t assume they learned everything from a school anti-drug program. As a parent, you can provide important details and the reality-driven messages they need.

How to have the conversation:

Even though they may not want to hear it, make sure your teenager knows your rules and that you do not approve on any drug or alcohol use. Also, be clear on the consequences and be consistent in enforcing the rules – otherwise, your teen will begin to think they do not apply to them. Children who are not regularly monitored by their parents are four times more likely to use drugs.

  • Teens are very concerned with how they look around friends and peers, so remind your teen about the negative effects of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs have on physical appearance.
  • Give your teenage lots of positive praise for trying hard in something or making good choices. Positive reinforcement can go a long way in preventing drug use among teens.
  • Ask your child how their day was or how they’re doing in general. Showing interest in their daily life will help you earn your child’s trust and allow you to voice a strong point of view about drugs when needed. You can also ask what they’ve learned about drugs in school. That way you know what extra information you need to provide them.
  • Acknowledge what they’re going through. You know that high school is when there’s peer pressure to drink or use drugs. Tell your child that you want them to have fun in high school but using substances isn’t the only way to do that. If a friend makes you feel bad about not using drugs, that person isn’t a very good friend. Encourage your child to look for other kids who are making good choices and try our new activities.
  • If your child comes home smelling of alcohol or appears to be under the influence of drugs, tell them that you’re upset and disappointed in their decision. Let them know that you’re worried and try to find out how often they’ve been using the substance. Be firm but respectful. Just yelling and not listening to your teenager’s point of view will probably not change their future behavior.
  • Encourage your teen to volunteer somewhere that they can see the impact of drugs in your community. Teenagers tend to be idealistic and enjoy hearing about ways they can help make an impact. Help your teen research volunteer opportunities at local homeless shelters, hospitals, or victim services centers.