Research (supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has shown the importance of good communication between parents and children. Developing communication skills helps parents remain aware of what is happening in their children’s lives, and it allows children the freedom to feel comfortable coming to their parent(s) with questions or their problems without fear of judgement or punishment. The kind of information you receive depends on how effectively you listen, the way the question is asked and the immediate reaction to information shared.
Be attentive and patient with your child when they are speaking. Let them know that their thoughts and feelings are valid by being genuinely interested in what they have to say. Show them the same level of respect that you expect of them by listening without interrupting.
When it is your turn to speak again follow these guidelines:
·Show concern. Don't blame or accuse. Talking with children can be stressful especially when it is concerning difficult subjects/topics. Remember to remain CALM.
·Receive the correct message. Repeat back to your child what they said or summarize what you heard. “This is what I heard you say…Is that correct?/Is that what you meant?”
·Encourage problem-solving and critical thinking skills. Help guide them through any difficulties or problems. Be sure to give encouragement and emphasize positive choices! Here are some examples.
How can I do that?
1. Download one of these Family Talk Resources (Parent Talk Kit, Family Checkup: Positive Parenting, Family Discussion Guide)
2. Read it.
3. Use the information you find there as a guideline for your next discussion with your child about substance abuse or other difficult subject matter.