Tips for talking to youth

Fraser Health is developing a collection of resources to help support parents and schools talk to children of all ages about drugs. Fraser Health Mental Health and Substance Use Services Clinical Specialist Mark Goheen offers tips on how to talk to your child about drug use. 

Cheat sheet for talking to your kids

Download 7 tips for talking to your kids about drugs

How to talk to your child about drug use

Some tips on how to start the conversation

  • Be open, supportive and involved. Respect that youth are experts in their own culture, so invite them to teach you about their world. Praise positive behaviour, show respect and demonstrate genuine interest in your youths’ lives on an ongoing basis will help make you more approachable to them when they are running into difficulties and need someone to talk to.
  • Use the news. You can use an external reference like social media, a newspaper article or TV show about drugs to start a conversation with youth. Ask about what concerns, worries or questions that they have about ‘what is happening’.
  • Ask questions, then listen. The best way to talk to youth about drug use is to listen to them. Ask them to teach you more about fentanyl and other drugs by inviting them to tell you what they’re hearing, seeing or have learned. Ask youth about the kinds of concerns and cautions youth are sharing with other youth about drugs and safety; about what steps have youth been taking to keep each other safe. Ask them what it is like to be talking to you about this.
  • Speak from your heart. Focus on your heartfelt concerns for their safety and a deep regard for their wellness (in contrast to right/wrong, good/bad, obey/punish). Emphasize your deep caring, commitment to understand in contrast to ‘setting them straight.’

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