Who would have thought that watching people smoke marijuana, or even more often smelling it nearby, would become such a common thing. It is here in Colorado. While I can quickly get used to the idea, I have to remember to share with my boys that just because retail marijuana is legal for adults, doesn’t mean it’s legal for anyone under 21 . I have three different ages at three different schools and each child has their own way of looking at things. With the help of Good to Know Colorado, the nation’s first public education campaign regarding the legal, safe and responsible use of retail marijuana from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, I have developed some tips for talking to kids about marijuana.
Starting a conversation with your child is a must. How will they know to say “No” if no one has told them to? If we as parents feel like underage retail marijuana use is wrong, our children are four times less likely to use it according to the 2015 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey.
Talking to Kids about Marijuana
Ages 12 and Younger
Young kids do have questions about marijuana. Once they can read, they can see the retail stores! Our neighbors two doors down are a group of young men. Not to discriminate against them because they are nice guys, but they like having people over to sit on their back porch in the evenings. Who wouldn’t with this view?
The scent from their marijuana use drifts over and I’m just waiting for my six year old to ask what that smell is. When he does our conversation about marijuana will start. He’s old enough to understand the basics, especially when he has big brothers who are asking the questions out loud.
Here are some tips for talking to younger kids:
Establish yourself as a resource. If your kids know they can count on you for answers to their questions, they will come back for more information. Trust starts at an early age and knowing you will talk about anything will give them that thirst to inquire and be informed.
Talk about the positives. Focus your conversations on the healthy alternatives and positive things people can achieve without using retail marijuana. Playing sports is big at our house. We encourage that eating right and taking care of our body will give us our top performances.
Praise them for a job well done. Praise and positive reinforcement can go a long way in helping kids when they make smart choices. My 6 year old gets a goofy smile on his face when he knows he has pleased me, but even my teenager is secretly happy. Though he would probably never show it!
Ages 13 – 16
Talking to kids about marijuana during the middle school and beginning of high school years is so important. According to the 2015 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey, 1 in 3 kids who have used marijuana have used it before they were 15 years old. That is a scary fact to me! My oldest is in high school for the first time this year and that is scary enough! My main goal is to keep our mother-son relationship strong through these teenage years. A few tips to help with that and relate to the ‘marijuana talk’ are:
Conversation when the time is right. I am the mother who tries to fit a lot in during the car ride to school. This subject needs a little more time when you can both agree to sit down for awhile. Maybe a nice coffee date? Or wait, I bet he would like a pizza date better!
Be a good listener. This is so important if you are a talker like me. Listening to your child is the key. I think it’s important to learn who their friends are and how they are influencing your child’s life in and out of school.
Establish the rules. Let them know clearly, and positively, what you expect from them. I like to surprise my kids on occasion with a reward letting them know they are doing a good job at following the rules.
Role play “No” answers. This is great so they aren’t caught off guard. They will be ready to say “No, I can’t do that or I won’t be able to play sports” or whatever line works for your family.
Keep the conversation going. Even at this age they want to know you are still there for them and always will be. The end of high school and the college years bring on their own stresses. They have enough to worry about and your support matters.
Promote balance and responsibility. They are now thinking about the future and balancing school and work. Keeping them busy and organized is a great way to keep their minds off other things.
Also remind them that everyone is not doing it. Four out of five high school students do not use marijuana, according to the 2015 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey. They are not alone when saying “No.”
For more information about talking to kids about marijuana, check out GoodToKnowColorado.com – a fabulous resource to help you as a parent get advice about how to talk to your kids, as well as find information on the potential legal consequences and health effects of using retail marijuana.
Have you started talking to kids about marijuana?
This is a sponsored post with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s Good To Know Colorado campaign. All opinions are definitely my own.