Unfortunately with stories like this and this in the news, teaching our children about the dangers of drugs and alcohol must start earlier than ever. Here are some tips for teaching preschoolers and young grade school children about drugs, alcohol, and other kinds of poisoning.
Begin by emphasizing how eating healthy foods feeds their body and allows it to grow. Emphasize that putting things other than food can be very dangerous if put in your body.
Teach children that medicines can help your body if it is sick but only if prescribed by a doctor-that taking medicines that are not theirs is extremely dangerous. Make sure they know that they are never ever to take a medicine unless given to them by their parent (grandparent, etc). One of the top causes of childhood poisoning is iron overdose caused by vitamins. Be sure that you keep all medicines safely locked away and out of reach. Ensure that visitors to your home do the same and don’t be afraid to ask others about keeping their medicines out of reach when your children are staying in their homes.
Explain when appropriate that adults may drink alcohol but children must never drink it-even in small amounts. Even minute amounts of alcohol are harmful to a child’s body.
Be aware that some items we consider harmless can still poison a child, especially very young children. Mouthwash can contain up to 10% ethanol-enough to kill a preschooler if enough is consumed. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are another source of poisoning if ingested-be sure to supervise all use of hand sanitizers by your children.
Explain what cigarettes and other forms of tobacco are and how they are harmful to the body. Emphasize how important it is to care for our bodies and how smoking damages it. Use age-appropriate examples-for example, smoking damages the lungs making it hard to run and play. Set a good example by not smoking and keeping children away from second-hand smoke.
By taking the time to begin to teach children about harmful substances we can hopefully lay the foundation for a drug-free life and avoid common poisoning scenarios.