Talking About Drugs with Your Child

It can be difficult to talk about drugs with your kids, but a few key pointers can make it a whole lot easier. Use these tips to help you talk openly about drugs with your child.

1. Do Your Homework
drug,Make sure you understand enough about drugs, including why your child might experiment with them, so you can talk to your child in an informed way. Understanding the facts about drugs will also help you keep calm in a crisis.

Get your information from reliable, credible sources such as the drugs website FRANK. In the US, the National Institute on Drug Abuse website has detailed information on Commonly Abused Drugs.*

2. Pick a Good Time
Don’t do it before they rush off to school. Or, if they are using drugs, don’t confront them when they’re high on drugs.

3. Take the Opportunities to Talk When They Arise
It may help to do it when the subject comes up during TV programmes or in the news. Mealtimes can also be a good forum for discussion.

4. Let Them Know Your Values and Boundaries
It’s important for your children to know where you stand on drug taking. Be clear about your opinions on drugs so that they know your boundaries.

5. It’s Never Too Early to Talk About Drugs
It’s a good idea to start talking about the issue before they start experimenting with drugs. Make them feel strong and independent enough to be able to say no.

6. Avoid Scare Tactics
Your teenage children often know more people who take drugs than you do, so there’s no point in saying, “Smoking cannabis will kill you”. But if you point out that cannabis can cause mental health problems and make people forgetful and unmotivated, that will seem realistic to them and be more of a deterrent.

7. Know Their Friends
Peer pressure is the single most powerful factor in determining whether or not your child will take drugs. Get to know their friends. Invite them to the house and take an interest in what’s going on in their lives. If you have good reason to think your child’s friends are involved in drugs, you may need to support your child to find a new circle of friends.

8. Let Them Know You’re Always There for Them
That way they can be honest with you about what they’re up to and they won’t just tell you what they think you want to hear.

9. Listen as Well as Talk
Talking to teenagers can be hard. When you’re discussing drugs, don’t preach or give a speech and don’t make assumptions about what they know or do. Let your child tell you about his or her experiences. It’s often easier not to talk face-to-face, but to have a conversation side-by-side, such as when you’re driving in the car, washing up together or preparing food.

10. Persevere
Don’t be provoked or put off talking if they argue, get embarrassed or storm off. Parents’ opinions matter to their children. Revisit the subject when they’ve calmed down.

11. Make Sure They Know that the Responsibility for Their Actions Rests With Them
You’re trying to help your child make good choices in life about drugs. But only they can say no to drugs. Be sure they know you support them, but emphasise that it’s up to them to make the positive decision to be drug free.

12. Be Realistic
It’s common for teenagers to experiment with drugs. Remember that only a small proportion of those who experiment will develop a drug problem.

13. Don’t Panic
If you find out that your child has tried drugs, your first reaction may be anger or panic. Wait until you’re calm before discussing it with them, and do so in a way that shows your love and concern rather than anger.

Getting Help
If your child is using drugs and you are worried, find out about the help available in Drugs: where to get help. In the US, see the resources on the website of the Office of Adolescent Health (from the Dept. of Health and Human Services) – and “Above the Influence“, a website on drug use specifically for teens.*

Get Support for Yourself
If your child has drug problems, get support for yourself. Lots of organisations offer support to parents and carers, including those below. In the US, see the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids.*

Editor’s Note: *clarification provided for our US readers.


Child Health & Safety News Roundup: 10-12-2015 to 10-18-2015

twitter thumbIn this week’s Children’s Safety News: Do Parents Have The Right To Post Pictures Of Their Kids Online

Welcome to Pediatric Safety’s weekly “Child Health & Safety News Roundup”- a recap of the past week’s child health and safety news headlines from around the world. Each day we use Twitter and Facebook to communicate relevant and timely health and safety information to the parents, medical professionals and other caregivers who follow us. Occasionally we may miss something, but we think overall we’re doing a pretty good job of keeping you informed. But for our friends and colleagues not on Twitter or FB (or who are but may have missed something), we offer you a recap of the past week’s top 10 events & stories.

PedSafe Child Health & Safety Headline of the Week:
3 Fast Ways to Help Calm Trauma “Explosions”



Recognizing What Bullying Looks Like at Each Age

Girls gossipingPeer cruelty is a problem and appears to be starting earlier. Though survey results do vary, by some estimates, one in seven American schoolchildren is either a bully or a victim. And the cruel behavior increases with age. A recent study prepared for the American Psychological Association showed that 80 percent of middle school students admitted to bullying behavior in the prior 30 days. The more we know about bullying, the better we will be able to parent our children.

So tune in closer to your child. Please. Repeated bullying causes severe emotional harm and erodes your child’s fragile self-esteem. Boys and girls are also bullied differently: girls are more likely to be victims of emotional and verbal bullying while boys are usually bullied by physical harm or threat. But whether the bullying was verbal, physical or relational, the long-term effects are equally harmful. Both boys and girls reported high levels of emotional distress and loneliness as well as lower self-esteem, loneliness, anxiety and depression.

Not all aggressive acts are bullying. Make sure you understand the definition.

If your child is bullied it means that peers are intentionally causing her pain. Bullying is repeated, conscious act of aggression with negative intent. There is also a power imbalance – the bullied child is targeted because they cannot hold their own.

Make no mistake: those cruel, aggressive habits are learned and should never be tolerated. Bullying also varies by ages and genders. What follows are the most common types of bullying and what it looks like by different ages and stages.

The Five Most Common Types of Bullying

There are five distinctly different types of bullying. A bully can “attack” her victim:

  1. Verbally (spreading rumors, saying prejudicial comments, delivering cruel remarks)
  2. Sexually (making sexual comments or gestures)
  3. Physically (hitting, slamming)
  4. Emotionally (excluding, humiliating, threatening, extortion, hazing)
  5. Electronically (cell phone, text-messaging, email or website).

Bullying by Stages and Ages

Bullying also takes on different forms at different ages. Here is what bullying looks like during the preschoolers years, school age and preteen/teens years. Of course, nothing is set in stone so your child’s experiences may differ but here are typical expectations:

1. Bullying During Preschool

These are the ages bullying behaviors are first learned because kids learn it works to get their way. Beware, new studies are showing that bullying is starting much earlier (20 percent of kindergardeners engage in bullying; an Australian study found 3 and 4 year olds engaging in peer cruelty). Little ones are imitators — watch what they imitate and stop it, ASAP! In the young set:

  • Bullying is mostly physical (biting, pinching, kicking, or shoving) and usually not intentional(the true definition of bullying).
  • Aggression is mostly due to impulsivity and the inability to regulate emotions. Do not allow aggressive behaviors or cruelty in any form. They easily become habits.

2. Bullying During School Age

  • Verbal bullying (saying mean comments, put downs and taunts) is prevalent.
  • Physical bullying continues with younger school age students.
  • Around fourth grade social exclusion (leaving kids out and knowingly hurting their feelings) begins.

3. Bullying During Preteens and Teens

Bullying peaks during these years-especially during the tween years-and is also the most vicious. Average middle school student experiences at least one verbal harassment per day. Though adults big concerns generally regard cyberbullying, research shows that most bullying starts face to face. By nature, bullying is a problem with dysfunctional relationships. The most common types of bullying (though not limited to these) are:

  • Relational aggression, rumor spreading and emotional bullying are common amongst girls.
  • Electronic bullying (via text, IM, pagers, cell phones, websites, Facebook, and emails) also begins.
  • Bullying turns to sexual harassment. Forty percent of fifth through either graders say they’ve been sexually harassed by peers (mostly boys).

While you can’t always be there to step in and protect your child there are ways to help your son or daughter be less likely to be victimized in the first place. Your first step is to get educated! A search in my blog will reap dozens of other articles on bullying. I am currently writing a book, The Complete Educator Guide for Bullying Prevention that will be available from Free Spirit Publications in Spring 2016.

***************************************************************************************************************Borba - book cover -parentingsolutions140x180

Dr Borba’s book The Big Book of Parenting Solutions: 101 Answers to Your Everyday Challenges and Wildest Worries, is one of the most comprehensive parenting book for kids 3 to 13. This down-to-earth guide offers advice for dealing with children’s difficult behavior and hot button issues including biting, tantrums, cheating, bad friends, inappropriate clothing, sex, drugs, peer pressure and much more. Each of the 101 challenging parenting issues includes specific step-by-step solutions and practical advice that is age appropriate based on the latest research. The Big Book of Parenting Solutions is available at

The Adolescent Brain – A Kid’s Perspective

Teenager with booksThe adolescent brain: one of the most complex and confusing, yet, majestic things in existence. This article isn’t so much about the teenage mind itself but rather a book about the adolescent brain and the importance of keeping your child’s brain healthy. The Owner’s Manual for Driving your Adolescent Brain, written by JoAnn Deak, Ph.D. and Terrence Deak, Ph.D. is an insightful book that gives expert advice on how an adolescent’s brain works and how to nourish it to its full potential.

Throughout this article you may wonder how I came upon this book and why I took such an interest in it. Well, my mom also writes for this website and she is working on a master’s in public health so, naturally, my father and I are her outlets and guinea pigs for random health related information. She apparently thought it would be a good idea to get me a cliché “your changing body” book which turned out to be well written and interesting.

The book touches on three main points: nourishment, enrichment, and protection plus lots in between. There are pages on sleep, social interaction, stress, and puberty. It also offers a very technical aspect Young girl thinking with glowing brain illustrationincluding information on what happens in your brain during adolescence and information on different lobes of the brain such as the amygdale and the process of myelination and certain hormones such as gonadotropin-releasing hormone.  This aspect is communicated through the use of clever analogies that maintain a relatively common theme and visual aids throughout. For instance, associating ear bud wires and the rubber that encases them with axons(wires) of neurons(ear buds) and myelin(rubber coating).

This book was definitely an eye opener for me. Many things that I do were either acknowledged as positive or negative actions for my body. For instance, I have learned that procrastination will only ever harm you, even if in the short term it seems like an acceptable alternative. Procrastination can affect sleep, stress, and incidentally, the development and long term healthiness of your brain. I was also surprised at how accurate the book’s description of the experiences a teen will have during puberty and adolescence was. The Owner’s Manual for Driving your Adolescent Brain talked about how an adolescent may try to find new experiences or expand their social circle. I was able to link several supporting examples to this from my life in the last year alone. For example, last year I became really Adolescent Brain book cover - finalgood friends with several girls at school. I have to admit, these doctors really get me. I mean they would make ideal parents because you would be able to share your life with them and they could give legitimate feedback. The only downside is that they may publish your life experiences in a study.

As an adolescent I need to take the initiative to take care of my brain and body, and to parents I would suggest that you take the initiative to inform your child about some of this information. Purchasing The Owner’s Manual for Driving your Adolescent Brain may also be a good idea seeing as how it goes more in depth with these topics and others than I have now. You can obtain this book at many retailers and book stores as well as at The Owner’s Manual for Driving your Adolescent Much like a car owner’s manual, though, it helps to refer to this book several times and “fix things under the hood as necessary”.

Eating Disorders Explained

girl watching a red appleFind out the facts about eating disorders, including what they are, who’s affected by them and what to do if you need help and support.

What is an Eating Disorder?

There are several different types of eating disorder, the most common being anorexia, bulimia and binge eating. Eating disorders are mental health conditions that all involve an unhealthy relationship with food and eating, and often an intense fear of being overweight. If you have an eating disorder you may experience one or more of the following:

  • You have a preoccupation and concern about food and gaining weight.
  • You would like to lose weight even though friends or family worry that you are underweight.
  • You let people around you think you have eaten when you haven’t.
  • You’re secretive about your eating habits because you know they’re unhealthy.
  • Eating makes you feel anxious, upset or guilty.
  • You make yourself vomit or use laxatives in order to lose weight.

What Causes Eating Disorders?

It’s unlikely that an eating disorder will be the result of one single cause. It’s much more likely to be a combination of many factors, events, feelings or pressures that lead to you feeling unable to cope.

These can include low self-esteem, problems with friends or family relationships; the death of someone special; problems at school, college, university or work; lack of confidence; or sexual or emotional abuse. Many people talk about simply feeling too fat or not good enough. You might use food to help you cope with painful situations or feelings without even realising it.

In situations where there are high academic expectations, family issues or social pressures, you may focus on food and eating as a way of coping.

Traumatic events can trigger an eating disorder. These might include bereavement, being bullied or abused, a divorce in the family or concerns about sexuality. Someone with a long-term illness or disability (such as diabetes, depression, blindness or deafness) may also have eating problems.

Some studies have also shown that there are biological factors involved. In other words, some people will be more likely to develop an eating disorder because of their genetic make-up.

Who is Affected by Eating Disorders?

Anyone can develop an eating disorder, regardless of age, sex or cultural or racial background. The people most affected tend to be young women, particularly between the ages of 15 and 25, and around 10% of people with eating disorders are men.

What Should I Do if I Think I Have an Eating Disorder?

People with eating disorders often say that the eating disorder is the only way they feel they can stay in control of their life. But, as time goes on, it is the eating disorder that starts to control you. You may also have the urge to harm yourself, or misuse alcohol or drugs.

If you think you have an eating disorder, talk to someone you trust. You may have a close friend or family member you can talk to. There are also a number of organisations that you can talk to, such as the eating disorders charity beat (0845 634 1414) or in the US at the National Eating Disorders Helpline (1-800-931-2237)* and the Samaritans (08457 90 90 90) or Samaritans USA (1-800-273-TALK)*.

Your GP (family doctor*) can also give you advice and talk to you about getting a diagnosis and the possible treatment options, which will depend upon your individual circumstances and the type of eating disorder you have.

Worried that a Friend or Relative has an Eating Disorder?

If you are concerned about a friend or family member, it can be difficult to know what to do. It is common for someone with an eating disorder to be secretive and defensive about their eating and their weight, and they are likely to deny being unwell.

For tips on how to approach and talk to your child about eating disorders, go to Advice for parents. For advice for teens on how help a friend see Supporting someone with an eating disorder.

You can also talk in confidence to an adviser from beat by calling their helpline on 0845 634 1414. They also have a designated youth helpline on 0845 634 7650. (*or in the US you can call an advisor on the National Eating Disorder Helpline at 1-800-931-2237)

Editor’s Note: *clarification provided for our US readers. 

Child Health & Safety News Roundup: 10-05-2015 to 10-11-2015

twitter thumbIn this week’s Children’s Health News: A Pediatric Cancer Drug Three Decades in the Making

Welcome to Pediatric Safety’s weekly “Child Health & Safety News Roundup”- a recap of the past week’s child health and safety news headlines from around the world. Each day we use Twitter and Facebook to communicate relevant and timely health and safety information to the parents, medical professionals and other caregivers who follow us. Occasionally we may miss something, but we think overall we’re doing a pretty good job of keeping you informed. But for our friends and colleagues not on Twitter or FB (or who are but may have missed something), we offer you a recap of the past week’s top 15 events & stories.

PedSafe Child Health & Safety Headline of the Week:
10 Tips to Help Boost Your Teen’s Selfie Safety IQ
Please Read! This could just save your teens life!