Younger kids look up to their older siblings – be sure to include them in family conversations about substance use.
As parents, we are here to support and protect all our children from any potential danger.
Younger brothers and sisters can hero-worship their older siblings and may try to follow in their footsteps, copying everything their big brother or sister does, even when it comes to doing something potentially harmful, like using substances. That’s why it’s important to include the entire family in the conversations you have about substance use and the harms that early drug use can cause to the mental and physical health of your kids.
If you are the parent of young children or pre-teens, you may decide to set safety rules about the use of substances like alcohol, cannabis, or nicotine. Communicate the rules in an age-appropriate way, and ensure that each one of your kids understands what the rules are and the consequences to their health of not adhering to them.
Empower your preteens and teens to resist experimenting with drugs by nurturing their self-confidence and resilience. Encourage them to get involved in sports and hobbies, and make sure they grow up in a safe, loving, and supportive home – these are some things that can help them resist the temptation to use substances, even if they have an older teen sibling who may use.
If your older teen or a young adult child living at home has already begun to experiment with drugs, have an open and honest conversation reminding them to be aware that their younger siblings may be watching and as a consequence, think it’s okay to try drugs for themselves. Engage in their help to keep their younger siblings safe from harm. Ensure they keep their substances like edible cannabis, alcohol safely out of reach. Remind them of the lower-risk use guidelines of alcohol and cannabis.
If you are the parent of a child who is problematically using drugs, get them the help they need. Enlist the guidance of medical professionals, and solicit support from your extended family and close family friends. A calm conversation with younger siblings to explain the issue your family is facing together may help them understand what your older child may be going through.
Whenever you talk with your kids about substance use, get informed, and be sure to base your drug information on facts, not fears.
We provide parents with valuable resources on a variety of substances that can help you have informed and meaningful conversations with your kids, no matter how old they are.