On this page you will find helpful tips and advice for how to start a conversation with the youth in your life about making healthy decisions about substance use. Talking about substance use does not have to be difficult, confrontational, or anxiety-inducing; trying out different conversational strategies may help to build a stronger relationship with the youth in your life. Keep in mind that empowering the youth in your life to make healthy decisions empowers youth to make health decisions in various aspects of their life, not just substance use. Click on the links below to learn more about ways to keep the youth in your life safe from sources such as the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids:
Conversation Tips for Parents
- Show your concern. Express to your child that you’re worried about her (example, “You haven’t been yourself lately”).
- Be direct. Clearly state your concerns as well as any evidence you’ve found (“You’re not showering, your grades have dropped, and I found empty beer cans in your car”).
- Let your child know you value their honesty and are willing to listen without making judgments. Keep in mind that listening without making judgments does not mean that there will not be consequences).
- Watch your tone of voice. Even though may you want to raise your voice, it is important to speak calmly so that you do not push your child away.
- Check out this resource for more tips: Have a Conversation Not a Confrontation Guide (PDF)
- Depending on your child’s age, you may approach the conversation different. Click HERE to read more about talking to your child at any age about substance misuse.
More Conversation Tips for Parents
- The Massachusetts Department of Public Health provides conversation tips for parents on a wide range of topics, including tips for high school-aged and middle school-aged youth.
- It’s important to know the facts about substance misuse while talking to your children. Click HERE to learn more facts on teen substance misuse.
- Is There A Problem? Learn how to spot signs of drug use, how to start the conversation, and more.
Youth Mental Health
It’s important to ask our young folks how they’re doing, not just what they’ve been up to. Youth learn from those around them; asking about mental health is a great way to teach our children that talking about feelings and mental wellbeing is normal.