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Just Say “No!”

​Abuse of dangerous drugs by children is widespread-not just marijuana, heroin and cocaine, but also alcohol, tobacco, anabolic steroids, and a variety of inhalants and stimulants, both over-the-counter and prescription.

Kids are offered drugs at an alarmingly early age. That's why it is imperative that you talk to your children about the dangers of drugs while they're still young. If your child is offered drugs, how do you think he or she would respond? Have you taught your child what to do in that type of situation?

Saying "No" is a skill you need to teach your child. The following five parenting tips and strategies demonstrate how you can teach your child to refrain from possessing contraband or drugs. Tell your son or daughter the following:

  • Refuse to accept drugs or contraband from strangers or peers
  • Examine your own possessions and decide whether they are appropriate to have (legally, morally, rightfully yours)
  • Turn in drugs or contraband to the appropriate adult or authority figure
  • Self-report your involvement. Peer report, if necessary
  • Honestly answer any questions that are asked by the adult or authority figure

The best course of action is prevention. Teaching your children that they have the power to say "No" is the first step. You must also be willing to talk often to your children about the dangers of drugs, keeping the communication lines open. Effective communication means that you're an active listener. Your children should know that they can talk to you about any subject, no matter how sensitive.

If you suspect your child may already have a problem, call the Boys Town National Hotline at 1-800-448-3000 for professional advice and information on treatment centers in your local area.

To learn more about teaching children important life skills, including resisting peer pressure and saying "No" assertively, order a copy of Teaching Social Skills To Youth. The behavioral steps that go with more than 180 social skills are described.

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