Drug Prevention: Kindergarten to Grade 3
In these early school years, kids usually enjoy school and look up to their teachers and parents. They are eager to please and still quite dependent on you. This is a good opportunity to teach them healthful lifestyle behaviors. Children of this age need rules to guide their behavior and information to make good choices and decisions.
Tips for Parents
- Be a role model. Practice healthful behaviors and include your kids whenever you can. This could be through making a meal together or taking a family hike.
- Set clear rules. Develop and implement a few, simple, important family rules. Be clear about the need for the rules as well as the consequences for breaking them. You can explain the need for rules by talking about traffic safety rules and school rules with which your child is already familiar.
- Emphasize the importance of good health. Most children are interested in how their bodies work. Talk about things people do to stay healthy, such as brushing teeth, washing hands, eating good foods, and getting plenty of rest. Use this discussion to contrast the harmful things that people do, such as taking drugs, smoking, or drinking to excess.
- Tell your kids about the dangers of drugs and alcohol. Give kids clear and consistent messages. Discuss only immediate consequences, because kids at this age can't relate to events in the future. For example, explain that it is harder to shoot baskets or concentrate in school when using drugs or alcohol, and that smoking causes bad breath. You may also want to talk about the negative effects on the entire family. Also, be sure they understand the difference between medicine and illegal drugs.
- Discuss messages about drugs and alcohol in the media. Kids receive drug, alcohol, and smoking messages through a variety of media sources. Ask your kids what they hear and what they think about it. Help them to understand that these messages are often misleading or harmful.
- Practice ways to say "no" with your child. Describe situations that may make your child feel uncomfortable. One example is being invited to ride a bike where the child is not allowed to go. Another example is being offered medicine or other unfamiliar substances. With your child, develop some responses to use in these situations; practice these responses.
- Give your child the ability to escape a bad situation. Tell your child they should call you and/or leave any situation in which they don't feel comfortable.
- Provide your child with helpers. Children are generally trusting, so it is essential to help your child know who to trust. Develop a "helpers" file of people your child can rely on. Put together a phone list of relatives, family friends, neighbors, teachers, religious leaders, and the police and fire departments. Illustrate the list with photos. Talk with your child about the kind of help each person on the list could provide in case of various unexpected situations, such as being approached by a stranger or losing a house key.
- Work on problem-solving skills. Help kids to develop appropriate solutions for problems such as homework, bullies, and peer pressure. Also teach them a variety of outlets for dealing with problems, such as writing, drawing, or e-mailing with a friend or relative. These strategies will not only help them to react to difficult situations, but will also increase their confidence in all situations.
- Know your child's community. Get to know your child's friends and their parents. Check in often with other parents to be sure things are going okay. Steer your kids into activities that are positive, healthful influences.
Partnership for a Drug-Free America
The Substance Abuse and Mental
Health Services Administration
National Institute on Drug Abuse
Grades K-3. Partnership for a Drug-Free America.
Available at: http://www.drugfreeamerica.org/Templates/
Accessed September 18, 2003.
Last reviewed September 2003 by
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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