- Make a Plan. Before you engage your teen in a conversation, you’ll need to prepare yourself. Go for a walk; sit where you can’t be disturbed, and think. Reflect on the facts of the situation and try to avoid negative feelings of anger and betrayal. Organize your thoughts.
- Present the Facts. Set the tone by opening the discussion with a statement of your love and concern for your teen. Calmly point out the facts as you know them: you found evidence of alcohol use in his or her room or car; your teen has violated curfews; grades have slipped; your teen has changed from being a “good kid” to someone who is getting into trouble at home, or school or in the community; or simply, you have noticed your teen has become quiet, secretive and has changed from the kid you used to know.
- Listen After presenting the facts as you see them, ask your teen for his/her response to the information you’ve presented. Listen to your teen. Hear what he or she is saying.
- Discuss. The next step is to discuss the shared information. This may be the most difficult part, as the tendency for both you and your teen will be to respond angrily to each other. Don’t accept flimsy excuses. Be steady and consistent in your approach. Don’t get lulled into “looking the other way” because it’s easier. Know that you are doing the right thing.
- Set Rules. Firmly and warmly make it very clear that you will not tolerate drug or alcohol use by your teen. Identify the consequences if they do use. Learn more about rule setting.
- Set Clear Consequences/Reward Good Behavior. Let your teen know that you will be holding him/her accountable for his/her actions—and that there will be consequences for not following the rules such as loss of privileges or restricting their curfew. Also consider offering incentives or rewards. “Catch” them doing something right.
- Continue the Conversation. Determine a time when you and your teen will have the next talk. Talking to your kids about drugs is a continuous process, not an event. Let your teen know that you will be having another “meeting” to check in.
Plan adapted from Parents: The Anti-Drug.