Help for Parents

Marijuana

Talking With your Children about Marijuana

With states legalizing and decriminalizing marijuana, it is becoming more mainstream. There are even new ways of to use marijuana such as edibles, vaporizers and concentrates.

This shifting landscape doesn’t change the fact that all mind-altering substances — including marijuana — are harmful for the developing brain. Today’s marijuana is 3-4 times more potent than in the 1980’s. It is more important than ever for families to talk about marijuana early and often.

As different age groups require different information, here are some talking points for discussion with children of all ages. You are the biggest influence on whether your child will use alcohol or other drugs. Research shows that children are likely to model their parents’ behavior — both healthy and unhealthy.

Preschoolers

 Tell your child that they should only eat food/candy and take medicine that you or a known caregiver gives to them.

 Tell your child to never put anything in their mouth unless they know what it is.

 Explain the importance of taking good care of our bodies — eating right, exercising and getting a good night’s sleep.

5-8 Year Olds

 Remind your child that they should only eat food/candy and take medicine that you or a known caregiver gives to them.

 Tell your child to never put anything in their mouth unless they know what it is.

 Make sure your child knows that they shouldn’t stay in a place that makes them feel uncomfortable.

 Talk to your child if they see marijuana use in a TV show or movie, or hear music with lyrics that reference marijuana. Use these teachable moments to share why marijuana is illegal and the harm it causes a growing mind and body.

9-11 Year Olds

 Explain the harmful effects of marijuana on a developing mind and body and share the facts with your child. The science is clear that brain functions such memory, cognition, motivation, and emotion are significantly disrupted by chronic marijuana use.

 Act out scenes with your child where people offer them marijuana. Let them know that they can always use you as the excuse, “No, my mom (dad, grandma, etc.) will kill me if I smoke pot.”

 Set clear rules and expectations about marijuana and how you will enforce the consequences if the rules are broken, as marijuana is harmful and unhealthy for them.

 Tell your child what makes them so special and why you want them to be healthy and safe.

12-14 Year Olds

 Make sure your teen knows your rules and expectations about marijuana and how you will enforce the consequences if the rules are broken, as using marijuana is harmful and unhealthy for them.

 Ask your teen about their beliefs about marijuana and take the opportunity to dispel myths and share facts. For example, research has shown that long term use causes IQ loss.

 Get to know your teen’s friends and their families. Ask your teen about any new friends and find out what they like to do. Monitor where they go with friends. Express your concerns about friends that may not be the best influence.

 Develop a plan so your child knows how to leave from a situation that is uncomfortable or dangerous.

 Discuss your teen’s daily ups and downs

15-17 Year Olds

 Don’t lecture. Reinforce facts about harmful consequences of marijuana use. Studies show negative effects on drivers—impaired judgement, loss of motor coordination and reaction time. Using marijuana, just like any other drug, can lead to addiction.

 Remind your teen that underage marijuana use can change the structure and function of their brain, which continues to develop until their mid 20s.

 Discuss how marijuana use can affect the future. Heavy use by teens is linked to lower grades and increases high school/college drop-out rates. Marijuana users cannot pass workplace drug tests.

 Use news reports, references in music, or marijuana use in TV/movies as discussion openers.

 Compliment teens on the things they do well and for positive choices they make. Talk to teens about sources of stress in their lives and healthy ways to manage stress. Talk about what they should do if they are concerned about a friend.