Tips for Parents on Keeping Children Drug Free
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Tips for Your Preschool Child

It may seem premature to talk about drugs with preschoolers, but the attitudes and habits that they form at this age have an important bearing on the decisions they will make when they are older. At this early age, they are eager to know and memorize rules, and they want your opinion on what's "bad" and what's "good." Although they are old enough to understand that smoking is bad for them, generally they are not ready to take in complex facts about alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. Nevertheless, this is a good time to practice the decision-making and problem-solving skills that they will need later on.

Here are some ways to help your preschool children make good decisions about what should and should not go into their bodies:

  • Discuss why children need healthy food. Have your child name several favorite good foods and explain how these foods contribute to health and strength.

  • Set aside regular times when you can give your son or daughter your full attention. Get on the floor and play with your child; learn about his or her likes and dislikes; let your child know that you love him; say that he or she is too wonderful and unique to take drugs. You'll build strong bonds of trust and affection that will make turning away from drugs easier in the years to come.

  • Provide guidelines like playing fair, sharing toys and telling the truth so children know what kind of behavior you expect from them.

  • Encourage your child to follow instructions and to ask questions if he does not understand the instructions.

  • When your child becomes frustrated at play, use the opportunity to strengthen problem-solving skills. For example, if a tower of blocks keeps collapsing, work together to find possible solutions. Turning a bad situation into a success reinforces a child's self-confidence.

  • Whenever possible, let your child choose what to wear. Even if the clothes don't quite match, you are reinforcing your child's ability to make decisions.

  • Point out poisonous and harmful substances commonly found in homes, such as bleach, kitchen cleanser and furniture polish, and read the products' warning labels out loud. Explain to your children that not all "bad" drugs have warnings on them, so they should only eat or smell food or a prescribed medicine that you, a grandparent or a caregiver provides them.

  • Explain that prescription medications are drugs that can help the person for whom they are meant but that can harm anyone else, especially children, who must stay away from them unless they are prescribed properly for them.

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Last Modified: 06/23/2006