When speaking with your child, you don’t have to be graphic or technical. Rather, discuss with them in an age-appropriate and conversational manner. For instance, when broaching the subject of sex, talk about body parts, good touching vs. bad touching, where babies come from, puberty, etc. If you’re discussing drugs and alcohol, talk about putting only healthy things in our bodies, never taking anything from a stranger, and only taking medication given to them by their parent or doctor.
Starting these conversations early and keeping them going will pave the way to the harder talks as they get older. Every child communicates differently—learning your child’s “talk language” is key. Does your child talk more in first thing in the morning over breakfast, or later in the evening while shooting hoops? Sometimes, all it takes is simply being available for them when they need you.
Role-playing is another way to integrate these topics into the conversation. Let their imaginations run wild and allow them to put themselves into situations they need to get out of. Together, you can come up with a plan. Here’s a guide to the various topics and at what age to begin the conversation:
Sex education: As early as 4 years old (age-appropriately)
Bullying: 5 years old
Inhalants: 5 years old
Tobacco: 6 years old
Alcohol: 7 years old
Marijuana: 8 years old
Prescription drugs: 9 years old
Illicit drugs: 10 years old
Internet dangers: Before they use/have access to it
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