Parents can be a strong positive influence on their children. There is no way to guarantee that your children will never experiment with drugs but having a good relationship and talking openly can reduce the chances of them getting into trouble.
Be a role model
Young people can get their opinions about drug use from you. If you drink alcohol or take medicines, do so within safe limits. Be prepared to discuss this honestly with your children.
Set clear boundaries
Talk with your kids to set rules about what sort of behaviour is okay, and what is not. Be consistent and make sure your teenager knows what will happen if they break the rules.
Focus on the positive
Acknowledge your child's good behaviour and emphasise the things they do well and their positive contributions to the family. Make sure your son or daughter knows you love them and will always try to be on their side, even if you don't always agree with their behaviour.
Try to be united
If possible, try to make sure that you and your partner – or any other adults with influence on your child – are united in your approach to any problems that arise. Agree on your approach before you talk to your child and make sure your messages are the same.
Be part of their lives
Spend time with them, take an interest in their interests, eat a meal together every day and do other things together often. Get to know your child's friends.
Learn the facts about alcohol and other drugs, but don't pretend to know everything. Be prepared to say 'I don't know, but I will try to find out'. If you are honest with your children it will be easier for them to be honest with you.
Listen to your children
Talk and listen to your children. Ask their opinion about things. Listen to them, and they are more likely to listen to you.
It is important to be calm and rational when you talk about difficult things. Getting angry will make it harder to talk about difficult topics in future.
Keep on talking
Once you've talked about drugs or other difficult issues, it is important to talk about them again later. This makes it easier for your child to come to you if they have a problem.
Call the Parent Line for help
It can be very challenging for a parent to talk to their child about many issues, including drugs. For advice about how to talk to young people about drug use – or other parenting issues – call the Parent Line 1300 130 052
Experienced counsellors can talk with you over the phone, send you information and link you with other helpful services. Parent Line operates weekdays 9am – 9pm and weekends 4pm – 9pm or visit http://www.parentline.org.au/home .