Family mealtime is an important bonding experience. It is around the kitchen table where kids will open up about their day and parents can forget about their busy work schedules. Mealtime not only brings your family closer together, it also lowers the risk of your child turning to alcohol, tobacco, or illegal drugs. Did you know, one of the reasons youth say they don’t use drugs is because their parents have talked to them about their values? Often times this happens over a plate of spaghetti.
The ERASE coalition challenges your family to set aside at least three nights a week where you can sit down, talk, and enjoy each other’s company.
- Teens who eat frequent family dinners are less likely than other teens to get into fights, be suspended from school, or engage in many other risky behaviors.
- By eating with your children, it is more likely that they will eat healthier foods and more balanced meals.
- 61% of children who do not eat dinner with their families use alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs.
This Month’s Family Discussion: What is your favorite food, and why do you like it so much?
This Month’s Fact: 22% of Winneshiek 6th graders eat fruit at least 3 times a day. (Iowa Youth Survey, 2012).
Save the Date: Community Race| May 10 | Details
How to Have “The Talk”
When is the right time to talk to my kids about alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs? What if they are too young, and I just confuse them? What if it’s too late, and they are already using? It’s never too early or late to talk to your kids about these substances, and family dinners may be where these topics come up. As they get older, understand more, and are exposed to these types of things, your conversations should reflect that.
Preschool | Start introducing these topics. Teach your little one not to drink from random glasses; it might look like juice, but it could contain alcohol. Be clear about who can give them medications. Let them know that even though some medicines taste like bubble gum or look like candy, it’s only okay to take medication from trusted adults you have given permission to so.
Elementary | Discuss alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs factually, and focus on the present. Kids and even teen’s have a hard time understanding future consequences. Make sure they know your rules, expectations, and consequences you will enforce. Preteens understand the reason for rules and appreciate having limits, whether they act like it or not. Act out scenarios with them about what it would look like if someone offered them a substance. Have them practice saying “no” in different ways and different situations. The more they practice the more confident they will feel when saying “no” in a real life situation.
Junior and High School | Reinforce what substances can do to their mind and body. Many teens are extremely concerned with their physical appearance. If they believe a substance will impair their looks and health, they may be less tempted. Discuss prescription medications: the dangers when not taken correctly, when taken not prescribed, and when combining meds.
Don’t lie to your kids about substances because they may not take you seriously after that. There is no right or wrong way to talk to your kid as long as the conversations are happening. Your kid’s care what you think, and you have a bigger impact of their behavior than you may understand. So take a deep breath and have “the talk.”
Adapted from “How to Have the Talk” by Kristi Miller
Helping Services and the ERASE Coalition have created this placemat for you.