When communicating with your child, your messages can be more effective if you take into 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 K-3rd Grader.

Having a conversation with your K-3 Grader

A parent talking openly and honestly with their children about drugs is one of the most effective ways to prevent substance abuse. Discussions about alcohol and drugs are an ongoing conversation that begins early on and continues throughout the teenage years and young adulthood. As your child grows your discussions will change, but your dialogue is always centered around keeping your child healthy, happy, and safe. There are many teachable moments, or "everyday" opportunities, to talk to your child about alcohol and other drugs. 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 knows they trust in and feel comfortable coming to you when needed. Most importantly, be a good listener.

Your child is at the dinner table. He picks up a food item, such as a carrot, and says, "Look I'm smoking, just like Uncle Joe!"

What to Say
"Sometimes grown-ups make unhealthy decisions. I know Uncle Joe wouldn't want you to do that. He has told me many times he wishes he never would have started. Let's talk to him about it."(It is important to have a conversation with the person your child is role-modeling; discuss what you would like them to say to your child about the particular behavior.)

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 sees you or another adult they know drinking at a barbecue, you've talked about the dangers of alcohol, is confused.

What to Say
Some adults choose to drink while others don't - but that drinking is a decision that should be made when people are older. And, it is important even for adults to make sure that if they do choose to drink, that they do so responsibly in order to stay healthy and safe.

You and your child are walking in the street together and see someone who is obviously drunk, staggering, and slurring their speech.

What to Say
Talk about how alcohol hurts a person's ability to see, hear, and walk without tripping; it alters the way people feel; and it makes it hard to judge things around them like if there's a car coming too close. Sometimes people who get drunk a lot may have an illness called alcoholism.

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."

Your child has strep throat, ear infection, flu, or cold and requires prescribed medication.

What to Say
Explain to your child the difference between safe and unsafe medicine. You might show your child their name on the label and explain that this medicine was prescribed by the doctor to make you feel better. You might also add that the medicine has instructions on how much to take and it could be dangerous if misused. Remind them to only take medicine from you or someone you give permission to like grandparent or teacher.

SOURCE: Portions of Time to Talk- Parent Talk Kit. Download this helpful reference now. The Partnership at