It is important to talk to your kids about drugs and alcohol. Staff at LifeWorks NW advises that it is also vital to listen to them first. Check out the excellent suggestions for good listening below reprinted from “Keeping Your Kids DRUG-FREE: A How-To Guide for Parents and Care-givers.” For more information, check out www.TheAntiDrug.com.
Open the lines of communication by listening
The National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, Office of National Drug Control Policy also suggests trying to find time to be with your child when he or she asks to talk to you. Don’t say “in just a minute” or “not right now.” Devote your attention to what your son or daughter is saying, because kids know when you’re pretending to listen.
Some ideas for good listening:
- Ask open-ended questions that encourage conversation.
- Avoid questions that kids can answer with a yes or no.
- Make it clear that you are listening and trying to understand your child’s point of view.
- When your child describes events, repeat what you think your child has just told you.
To show that you are listening, you can also use phrases such as the following:
- “Sounds like you’re saying…”
- “Do you mean that…?”
- “When that happens to me, I feel like… Is it like that for you too…?”
- “Are you saying…?”
- “I’m having a hard time understanding what you’re saying. What do you mean?”
When they use words or slang that you don’t understand, ask them to explain. Establish regular weekly “together time” in which you and your child do something with each other that allows your child to talk. It doesn’t have to be elaborate — just taking a walk or going out for ice cream can be a chance to listen. Tap into what your child is good at by asking to be taught about it (for example, searching the Web, dancing, fishing, etc.).
Then you talk.
If you would like more information or extra help communicating with your child, contact LifeWorks NW’s Prevention Services at 503-627-9194.