Drug abuse, addiction, and violence are very sensitive topics, but they are ones that need to be discussed. Red Ribbon Week is an extraordinarily important time to come together and talk about these matters with our children. Here are nine ways to engage children in Red Ribbon Week.
1. Talk About the Week
If you haven’t talked to your children about drugs and violence before, you might have to speak pretty broadly. Explain how people are tempted by drugs and violence and what sort of harm comes as a result of this.
2. Tell Them About the Importance
You children might realize that you think this is important, but they might have trouble understanding why it should matter to them. Explain how having a week dedicated to a cause like this helps to create a dialogue that allows solutions to be developed.
3. Tell Them Stories
You don’t want to sensationalize anything or try to scare your kids, but you should give them stories that emphasize the importance of Red Ribbon Week. If you know anyone personally whose life has been altered by drugs and/or violence, consider talking about them. It might make you emotional, but it can really drive home the importance of these lessons.
4. Think of an Action Plan
Part of Red Ribbon Week is to help your children deal with the possibility of being pressured into taking drugs or participating in violence. When you talk about these things, tell them some ideas of things they can do or say should these situations arise. This includes walking away or politely but firmly declining.
5. Focus on Healthy Alternatives
Explain to your children that many people fall into drugs and violence because they think they don’t have anything better to do. There are so many other constructive activities that can be done in place of these things. Make a list of your child’s favorite activities and reasons why they’re better than drugs or violence.
6. Teach Compassion
Your children should be taught that those who are tempted by drugs and/or violence are not necessarily bad people. They’ve just been led down the wrong path. When we avoid judgement of people who have made mistakes, we become more compassionate, well-rounded people.
7. Be Creative
Red Ribbon Week is a time to speak out against drugs and violence. It’s also a time to flex your creative muscles. One way to do this is by making a poster, especially if your child’s school is having a poster contest. Your children might also try something like writing a poem or a play about Red Ribbon week and why it’s important.
8. Remind Them that You Love Them
All these discussions of drugs and violence might scare your children into thinking that any mistake will cost your love for them. Make sure they know that your love is unconditional. If you have to discipline them about anything, it’s being done out of love, not judgement.
9. Let Them Ask You Questions
Children are naturally curious, and this topic can spark a lot of curiosity. Give them the opportunity to voice their concern. They shouldn’t feel like their questions are a nuisance or obvious. Even if you know the answer to something, there was a time when you didn’t. Tell your children that they should never feel afraid to talk to you about anything that’s worrying them.
The lessons of Red Ribbon Week should not be considered temporary. When you have these discussions with your children, you need to remind them of how they should not be forgotten. This is not meant to scare them of the world, but to teach them how to be vigilant and know how to respond to uncomfortable situations. By taking Red Ribbon Week seriously, we can help our children to take their lives seriously as well.