Today’s guest blogger shares personal experience as a young drug user and how he has used this to help parents talk to their kids. In particular, he addresses marijuana use, which is one of the most popular first drugs for young adults. See what he has to say! MWM
Confronting a child who you believe to be taking drugs can be very difficult to do.
Getting caught by your parents smoking weed is the scariest thing in the world, what’s even worse, is finding out that your children smoke weed.
As a former family/drug counselor and a child of a parent who caught me smoking weed, I would like to inform you on the things I wished my parents would have done differently and what I taught other parents who caught their children smoking weed.
A little self disclosure:
I remember when my mother found my weed stash, she immodestly came out the room crying and screaming. Asking me “what did she do wrong?!” and telling me how I failed.
This was the worst thing she could have done and from my experience as a drug/family counselor, I can promise you there are MUCH better ways to address the issue of smoking weed.
The techniques I used to teach my clients to address their children’s marijuana use and how I personally address clients directly are based on the psychology of Sales and the use of Neural Associative Conditioning.
Let’s start off with applying the psychology of sales to discussing marijuana use with your children.
The most important principle in sales is identifying your prospects objections to the product and answering them before giving your presentation.
What are children’s objections to their parents?
“They just don’t understand”
“They don’t know what they’re talking about”
“They’re crazy! I’m not going to listen to them if they’re always angry and yelling at me!”
“They’re always trying to change them and never let me do what I want”
Don’t view this as your children complaining, rather, use this as useful information that you can use to overcome these objections. Once they are overcome, they will become more perceptive to your suggestions.
Find out what your children’s objections are and find out ways to overcome them. In the following paragraphs, you’ll read some common solutions that usually address most, if not, all of your children’s objections.
If you find out that your child is smoking weed, the worst thing you can do is immediately judge them and lose control of your emotions.
If you immediately react to the situation, you will lose credibility in your child’s eye and most likely won’t listen to you.
You can’t force them to quit. It may sound counter intuitive, but the truth is that you must allow them to come to the conclusion that smoking weed is bad for THEM. If they feel like you’re trying to force them to decide that weed is bad for them, they may stop for the moment, but they’ll eventually return to smoking weed.
Why is this important? As someone who constantly studies online marketing and psychology, you must allow your prospect think that it was their idea to purchase the item (similar to the movie inception).You’ll lose credibility and in the world of sales nothing loses a customer faster than losing credibility. Having credibility enables your child to listen to you more. Studies have proven that credibility and authority causes people to do things outside of their own morale.
This is done through having them associate pain with smoking weed and pleasure with being sober. This is not something you intellectually convince them of, rather, it’s done through finding ways to allow them to experience and associate pain with smoking. I’ll teach you that towards the end of the article.
Demonstrate to them that you have an open mind to weed and that you are not biased. They must feel and understand that you see both the good and the bad sides of weed. This will give you some form of authority and trust in their eyes and your opinion will have more weight.
Listen. Most parents are so distraught at finding out that their children smoke weed that they don’t’ care about what the child has to say; instead they want the child to listen to them exclusively.
Nothing angers a child more than feeling as though their opinion is not valued. Allow them to speak and explain to you why they smoke without interrupting them. Not that you condone their marijuana use, but that you understand as to why they are smoking weed. For example, if they smoke because they are bored, accept the fact that they use that as their own solution. Don’t condescend them and tell them they are wrong. Simple listen and accept.
Rather than lecturing them and telling them what to do, use the power of stories – particularly stories they can relate to.
For example, rather than telling them, “you can’t smoke weed, it’s not good for you!!” relate to them through telling them a story based on your own personal experience (past drug abuse, or any form of dependence) or through someone else’s account. Why? In sales and even in spiritual scriptures, stories have been used to explain concepts and ideas because the brain finds it more engaging. It’s better than telling them what to do because stories have an emotional element to them.
Make sure that their experience of speaking with you is accompanied with positive emotions, why? Because if they associate pain to opening up with you, their brain will naturally avoid it. So whenever they open up to you, reinforce that behavior through some form of reward. Give them ANY form of reward, but make sure it’s something they truly value it. Like cooking their favorite meal, or genuinely thanking them for opening up.
Most parents indirectly punish the act of opening up because they emotionally react.
Remember what I said earlier, you must remain grounded and centered within yourself. Don’t allow your emotions to get the best of you because it can lead to being a painful experience for your child. Make the experience as comfortable as possible.
How is this achieved? Simple, just ask yourself, “how can I make the experience for my child of opening up about their marijuana use the most pleasurable experience for me and him/her?”
Be proactive about your actions rather than being reactive. If you don’t ask yourself those questions, you’ll never come up with the solution.
OK, now let’s discuss what you must do when discussing with your child their drug use.
The techniques we’ll be using will be based on the pain-pleasure principle, which is what drives human behavior is a desire to avoid pain and gain pleasure.
This is why you must understand their perspective because if they feel like you’re not considering and respecting their reasons for smoking weed, they won’t respect what you say.
Why your children smoke weed:
At the basic level, the reason people get addicted to drugs is because they associate pain to being sober and pleasure to being high.
The brain will begin making the connection that if any pain is felt; weed becomes the easiest and fastest solution.
Remember, the brain is always attempting to conserve energy. Moving forward, the brain will request for weed through cravings at any signs of stress because it learned that smoking weed is the fastest way to avoid pain.
So how are we going to use this to help your child stop smoking weed?
Easy, through linking pleasure to the new behavior and pain to smoking weed.
Okay let’s get to what you must do when speaking to your child about their marijuana use.
What to do before having the discussion:
The best outcome my clients experienced was when they remained centered and the discussion was brought up during a moment when everyone was in a good mood.
Don’t bring up the subject while arguing or when you’re mad because it’s going to create resistance.
The next thing you must do is sit down, get a sheet of paper and say something along the lines of, “before I say this, please understand that I’m not mad, I just want to understand where you’re coming from. I found out that you smoke weed and I just want to talk about it I don’t want to lecture you or tell you what to do, I’m just curious as to what are the reasons for smoking”. Simple as that. You are communicating that you are not trying to change them; instead you are trying to understand them.
Once they agree, sit down with them and explain how you found out and that you were concerned for their well-being. Explain that you did your own research and found out that weed isn’t as bad as you thought, but that it also has its cons and that’s why you want to explore with them their reasons.
Once they feel understood rather than being judged, they’ll be more open to your suggestions.
The questions to ask
Notice how the sequence of the questions are tailored, they begin with asking about the pleasures they receive from smoking weed for a two reasons; they are going to feel understood and heart, and you are going to use their answers and attempt to find alternative activities to fulfill the benefits they think they’re getting.
Step 1: What pleasures and benefits do you get from smoking weed? Remember, even though the behavior is bad, it’s important to find out the benefits so that you can find alternative behaviors that give the same kind of pleasures. In addition, this question throws them off the loop because they expected to begin discussing the negatives.
Step 2: What negative consequences do you experience from smoking weed?
Step 3: What will it cost you if you don’t quit smoking weed right now? Have them write them what it will cost them within the next 5 years if they don’t stop smoking weed. Make sure they cover the emotional, social, financial, romantic, and physical consequences of not smoking.
Step 4: What pleasures will you receive if you stop smoking weed right now?
Don’t just include direct pleasures (i.e. more money, happier family), make sure they write down bilateral pleasures such as being able to travel as a result of having more money, being able to use the time they spend on smoking weed on a skill or a sport.
These questions will accomplish the following:
- It will shake the legs of the belief they have that “weed is not that bad”. Belief is what drives our decision making. If you believe that smoking weed is good, you’ll be more prone to smoke. And what’s even worse is that your brain will block out any apposing belief. So it’s important to have them experience the pain of not quitting right now so that they can begin linking pain to smoking weed and thus changing their belief system and eventually their decision to smoke.
- You are linking pain to not smoking through focusing on the pleasures of quitting. This is something that your brain naturally blocks out because it has adopted the belief that smoking is pleasurable. The brain needs to conserve energy and conflicting belief system causes inner conflict and thus an expenditure of more energy. This is why it blocks out the pleasures of quitting because it wants to have a congruent belief system.
This is how I taught my clients how to approach their children if they were abusing drugs. When my clients followed these instructions, it rarely ended up in fights or arguments and the children either stopped using their drug of choice and/or improved their communication with their parents which is better than using and not communicating.
A few things to remember:
- Don’t ignore mental health issues. Approximately two-thirds of teenagers abusing marijuana suffer from some form of mental health related problems (i.e. anxiety, depression, bipolar, AD and etc.). Ensure that your child undergoes a mental health evaluation.
- Open up about your own drug use in the past. Being dishonest about your past relationship with weed only creates more resistance. Parents attempt to display a perfect and ideal image so that their children’s could emulate them at one point in time. But this results in parents at times contradicting themselves, and thus, losing the trust of their children. Nothing opens up a child then a parent opening up about their own past demons. Demonstrate that you understand them without judging them through disclosing your own battles in the past. This will give them permission to open up to you as well.
- Last, don’t blame yourself. When you ask them “what did I do wrong?” you are making it about you and you are extenuating that something is wrong with them. They have fragile egos and they’ll attempt to defend themselves through disagreeing with everything that you say to them. In addition, being the victim is never productive, no matter how justify it may be. Blaming yourself will only cause you to lose focus from the most important subject at hand, your child.
- Fifth, being judgmental. The worst thing you can do is judge your child. It’s one thing to be firm then it’s another thing to be judgmental to the point that your child refuses to listen to you.
About the Guest Blogger:
Alex is a life coach and founder of Your Mindful Blog and Quit Smoking Weed. He uses Mindfulness, Neural Linguistic Programming and Neural Associative Conditioning to develop true self esteem and help people quit smoking weed in under an hour. Prior to blogging , Alex worked as a family/drug counselor in Brooklyn, NY.
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