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A resource to start the conversation
about drug use and abuse.
Advice for Parents

.::: Talking to Kids Aged 2-8

Once your kids are teenagers, you might wish you'd discussed certain issues when they were younger.

Remember, it's never too early or too late when it comes to talking about drugs.

Age 2–3

Children this age love exploring what's around them.

Keep them safe by:

  • Storing medicine, cleaning products and other potentially dangerous products out of reach or locking them away.
  • Teaching them:
    • To stay away from and "don't touch" medicine or items with product safety symbols.
    • That you or another trusted adult will give them medicine if they need it.

Age 3-5

Children this age are very curious, so don’t be surprised if they start asking questions you don’t expect. Parents are the centre of a child’s world at this age, and they don’t question what parents say.

  • Take this perfect time to explain these safety messages about drugs:
    • Medicine is a drug because it changes how your brain and body work.
    • People should take medicine only when they’re sick, and take only the right amount. Even parents and other grownups have to be careful with medicine.
    • We don’t always need medicine. Lying down, having a snack, or finding a quiet place might treat a headache just as well as taking medicine.
  • Tell your child that only certain people are allowed to give him medicine. It could be only you, your partner or the doctor, or you may give permission to grandparents and child care providers to give your child medicine too.
  • Teach your child to ask you before accepting things from others. If someone, even a friend, hands them a candy, they need to stop, think and ask you if they can have it.

    (Hopefully this habit will continue over the teen years when you can’t be there – when you want them to stop and think before accepting colourful pills or powders at a party.)

  • Teach them to stay away from and “don’t touch” medicine or items with product safety symbols
  • Teach them early about the dangers of smoking and staying away from cigarette smoke.

Age 5–8

Children this age want to know how things work and will ask for lots of details.

When talking with this age group about alcohol and drugs, be prepared to answer questions honestly and thoroughly.

  • Explain why people use alcohol and drugs.
  • Give complete, accurate information. Explain the upsides and downsides of using drugs.
  • When discussing alcohol, explain that even a very small amount can harm their developing brains and bodies.


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Revised: April 22, 2016


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