It’s always important to communicate with your family – As parents, grandparents, guardians or trusted adults, having open conversations early on in a child’s life can help to build their trust, confidence, and resilience as they grow. Discussing together helps create a climate in which your child feels free and comfortable to talk with you about what’s happening in their lives and can make it easier to talk together about the bigger issues, like substance use.
It’s a good idea to talk with kids about substance use because:
- The average age a young person begins to drink alcohol is 13.4 years old, and 80% of youth 15 years and older have consumed alcohol.
- The average age a teen begins to use cannabis is 14 years old.
When it comes to drugs, chances are that by ten or eleven years old, kids have already heard a lot of things about alcohol and cannabis use; on social media, from their peers, they may have noticed more cannabis stores in the neighbourhood, or they’ve heard about or seen someone with an addiction to a substance. Because of what they’re hearing, they might think it’s a normal thing to use these substances early on. There are many kids who live in urban or rural settings where illicit drugs like fake prescription drugs, meth and crack cocaine may be more prevalent, and difficult to avoid.
By the time the kids in your life reach 15 or 16, they may already know kids who have tried alcohol or cannabis or illicit drugs or they may already be experimenting with substances themselves.
Your kids may already have several questions about drugs and the effects of substance use. They might want to talk about drugs with you, but they might not be sure how, even if they want to; getting a conversation started may seem like a hurdle to them, and they may be worried about how you’ll react.
Ready to talk? That’s great!
Introducing substance use into your family’s safety conversations as your children grow can protect your kids from the negative impacts of drug use, strengthen the connections between you, make it easier for them to talk about their own concerns with you, and help set them up for success as they navigate through the teen years and into adulthood.
Your conversations might not be perfect — that’s okay. The fact that you are talking with your kids about these issues is important and you are doing the right thing for your children. That’s what matters most.
Whether you’re a parent, a guardian, a grandparent, or a trusted adult – we’ve put together tools to help you set the stage for honest and effective talks with your children about the use of cannabis, alcohol and other substances.
Prepare your kids to make the right choices for their wellbeing
We’re here to help.
Browse through these pages to get tips, strategies, and valuable resources to help you and your family begin and continue effective conversations about youth and substance use together.
- Relax, you’ve got this!
- Get informed – Learn more about the substances your kids are hearing about.
- Tailor your safety talks to your child’s age
- Parents and their use of substances – Some things to think about
- Some tips for Parents
- Actively Listen to what your child is saying – it’s an easy skill to learn!