Talking to Your Kids About 420

As April 20 approaches, kids in middle and high schools across the country are likely hearing the words pot, weed and marijuana more often. If you’re a parent who hasn’t discussed marijuana with your child, now is the time. marijuana leaves

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If you have talked about it, the days leading up to 420 are a good time to remind them about the negative consequences of using marijuana. Having a conversation about pot with your child doesn’t have to be scary. Use these tips to help your child stay out of trouble on 420.

Start the Conversation

Teens can seem like they’re living in their own world. They don’t like to be lectured, and they don’t like being told what to do. Many of them also think they know more than their parents do about drugs. In some cases, they may be right. You should learn the facts about marijuana before starting the conversation. Once you’re ready, ask them if their friends are talking about 420. Ask if they have any questions or want to talk about it. If they don’t want to talk, tell them you’d like to chat about it. Stay calm and caring. You want to make your position on marijuana understood, and you want to be clear that smoking pot is not acceptable. But you don’t want to condemn them for something they haven’t done.

Be Authentic

Fearmongering doesn’t work. Teens know marijuana overdoses don’t kill you. They may also believe marijuana has medicinal effects. Your job is to provide them with clear answers and let them make good decisions. If you don’t have answers, look up information with your teens. Steer clear of biased websites promoting marijuana use. The truth is some chemicals in marijuana may have medicinal purposes. But smoking marijuana may damage the lungs. Explain to your child that, as with other drugs, they shouldn’t use it unless a doctor prescribes it. Teach them about the real risks of marijuana, such as memory problems, anxiety and headaches.

Be Cautious About Revealing Your Own Marijuana Use

Honesty is important. But if your child asks about your experiences with marijuana, honesty may not be the best policy. Your children may view your past drug use as a sign that using drugs is OK. A 2013 study published in the journal Human Communication Research found that when parents talked about personal drug use, their children perceived the drugs as less risky. Children look to their parents as role models. Telling them about past marijuana use can make you seem hypocritical or unreliable. Instead, relate to them. Tell them about how you said no to marijuana or chose not to hang out with friends who smoked weed.

Teach Them to Say No

“Just say no,” sounds good in theory. But in reality, saying no to close friends is difficult. Often, kids smoke weed because their friends offer it to them. Practice ways to say no with your teen.
Some ways to say no include:
  • Saying you have other things to do
  • Offering alternative activities
  • Saying you have to drive later
The easiest way to avoid smoking pot on 420 is to avoid people who have the drug. If your kids’ friends have been talking about using the drug, advise them to just avoid the friends for a day. If their friends use pot regularly, the conversation is even more important. Follow up with your teen. Let them know you’re available to discuss the topic of marijuana any time. They need to know you care and are aware.

Enforce Consequences for Smoking Weed

Contrary to popular belief, teens care about what their parents think. Tell your child how proud you are that they don’t drink alcohol or use drugs. Express how disappointed you’d be if they smoked weed or used other forms of marijuana. Set strict rules regarding drug use and enforce consequences for breaking them. The conversation shouldn’t sound threatening, but you should make it clear that smoking weed won’t be tolerated. Smoking weed may be the hot topic on 420, but surveys show that the majority of 8th- and 10th-graders have never tried pot. Nearly half of 12th-graders have tried marijuana once in their lifetime, but less than two-thirds of 12th-graders smoked weed annually. That means most kids don’t skip school and smoke on 420.

Medical Disclaimer: aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.

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