Talk To Your Child Correctly: Communication Guide

Talk To Your Child Correctly: Communication Guide

One of the keys to good parenting is communication.  Communication and dialogue between a parent and a child start as early as 18-24 months.  Even a simple “no” when a toddler is doing something they shouldn’t do is the start of opening a line of communication that will grow as your child grows.  Children need to know rules and boundaries, and there is no way for a child to know this unless it is communicated to them by their parent.  Children are naturally curious, and it is important to establish an environment where your child can ask you about anything and feel comfortable doing so


It is inevitable that your child will get sick and need to take medicine to clear up the illness.  While this can be frustrating to parents, it also presents a time to start communication with your child about medicine and drugs.  As you are providing your child with the medicine, they need you can explain what the medicine is, why it is important to take it properly, and what the consequences can be if the medicine is misused.  Explain to your child that the medicine they are taking has clear instructions on when and how to use it and show them the medicine prescription or packaging (even if they are unable to read they will still understand where to look for this important information.  Some ways to communicate with even the youngest of children are listed below:

  • “It is important to keep medicine in a safe place.”
  • “Medicine is not candy and even a little too much can hurt you.”
  • “Never take someone else’s medicine.”
  • “Never take medicine yourself always ask an adult.”
  • “I will let you know who is allowed to give you medicine.”

Establishing clear lines of communication and rules about medicine will allow you to keep your child safe and hopefully keep talking to you as they grow older about more sensitive subjects like drugs.


In the United States, approximately 480,000 people die each year due to the effects of smoking.  To keep your child safe and healthy it is important to communicate to them the dangers of smoking.  It is inevitable that your child will be exposed to smoking whether it is through watching characters on the television or if it is a relative that smokes, either way, it is important to talk to them about what effects smoking can have on their health.  If you see your child pretending to smoke, do not yell at them; calmly tell them that you do not approve of smoking and that you are glad they are just pretending as smoking is really bad for them.  If your child approaches you and talks about how their friends older brother smokes because it is cool, you can tell your child that you do not think smoking is cool and that it is important that they make their own decisions and that they should not worry about what others think.


Many adults (parents included) enjoy an alcoholic drink from time to time, and it is important to let your child know and understand how to properly use alcohol and that there can be bad consequences if alcohol is abused.  It is important to use simple straight forward answers to your child’s natural curiosity.  Listed below are some common questions and how to handle them:

  • “Can I try your beer?”

“No.  Beer has alcohol and is only for adults to drink; can I get you something else to drink?”

  • “Why do you drink alcohol?”

“I enjoy the taste of alcohol, but I have to be careful because too much alcohol can change the way I feel.”

  • “Why did Aunt Sally start walking and acting silly last night?”

“Unfortunately Aunt Sally drank too much alcohol, and it can change the way a person acts and even make them sick to their stomach, this is why it is important not to drink too much alcohol.”


While some subjects like animals, toys, or games are easy and fun to talk about other subjects like drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes may not.  It is important to approach all subjects the same way with simple, direct answers that are age appropriate.  By establishing a line of communication with your child at a young age will help them feel safe and secure to come and talk to you about any subject.  Establishing this line of communication can help you provide important guidance to your child that will help them make confident decisions with their peers and help them to avoid destructive behaviors including the misuse of drugs and alcohol.