When communicating with your child, your messages can be more effective if you take account what they know and understand at various stages in their development as well as their readiness to learn new information at different ages. Before starting those conversations, click here to learn more about how to deliver that message to your 4-6th grader:

Having a conversation with your 4-6th Grader

There are many teachable moments, or "everyday" opportunities, to talk to your child about alcohol and other drugs and to communicate your values. As your child grows your discussions will change but your dialogue is always centered keeping your child healthy, happy, and safe. Sample scenarios are presented below to guide you with ways to infuse prevention messages when everyday opportunities present themselves. Keep your conversations relaxed, friendly, nonjudgmental, and genuine so that your child feels connected to you and feels comfortable coming to you when needed. Most importantly, be a good listener.

Your child tells you that a friend tried a beer while her parents were away from home.

What to Say
"That's very dangerous. She could have gotten hurt, sick, or in trouble with her parents or the police. I would be worried and disappointed if you used alcohol."

Your child sees an adult smoking and, since you've talked about the dangers of smoking, is confused.

What to Say
Grownups can make their own decisions and sometimes those decisions aren't the best for their bodies. Sometimes, when someone starts smoking, his or her body feels like it has to have cigarettes—even though it’s not healthy. And that makes it harder for him or her to quit.

Your child tells you he was offered prescription drugs by a classmate — but said no.

What to Say
After praising your child for making a good choice and for telling you about it, let him know that he can always come to you.

Your child has expressed curiosity about the pills she sees you take every day — and the other bottles in the medicine cabinet.

What to Say
Just because it's in a family's medicine cabinet doesn't mean that it is safe for you to take. Even if your friends say it's okay, say, "No, my parents won't let me take something that doesn't have my name on the bottle."?

Suggestions for parents on how to communicate with their children via text messages

  • Hope UR having fun. Stay smart. Luv u
  • Be ur self. Be safe
  • I’m lucky ur my kid. Luv u
  • Thx for being so great. Have fun. Stay safe
  • If u need me – call me
  • Remember, I trust u. Love ya
  • Remember our talk. Love u and have fun.
  • Be careful and have fun.
  • Let me know where u r when u have a min. thx
  • Give me a call when u get a chance. Luv u
  • I’m always here if u need to talk.
  • Luv u.

Looking for guidance on setting rules for your child's cell phone? This is where the Family Cell Phone Contract comes in handy. It’s about setting clear rules and expectations for the privilege of owning or having access to a cell phone. Adjust it to fit your family needs and post it somewhere visible as a reminder of what has been agreed upon by both parties.

Transition to Middle School

Your child will encounter several transitions throughout their school years. Moving from elementary school to junior high to high school to college and beyond can be a very stressful time for many children. Moving, leaving friends, and changing schools can cause great anxiety for some students. This may result in academic difficulties, social/emotional problems, decline in self-concept, poor motivation, decreased attendance, and increased dropout rates. In addition, there are other transitions such as loss of a loved one, parents’ divorce, or birth of a new sibling that can increase the chance of your child participating in high risk behaviors. Talk to your child about these moments being temporary and assist them to identify healthy coping skills.

Sources: The Partnership at