How to Give Short Pep Talks to Your Kids About Marijuana, Alcohol and Living a Wellness Lifestyle

Today’s youth and young adults are exposed to a greater number and variety of risks to their physical and mental health, well-being and success than ever before in modern history.   

These risks include a continually shifting and growing list of dangerous consumable substances, such as marijuana, synthetic marijuana, alcohol, cigarettes, e-cigarettes, prescription opiates, and illicit drugs like heroin and cocaine.  At the same time, young people are at risk for a substantial number of chronic disease risks, such as physical inactivity, unhealthy eating, inadequate sleep, and uncontrolled daily stress, leading to heart disease, stroke and cancer. 

Unfortunately, the majority of youth and young adults experience multiple, co-existing health risks.  This means that typical young people have two, three or even more risks which can interact to increase their likelihood of experiencing harmful effects, while limiting their wellness and positive development. 

The national epidemic of multiple, co-occurring youth health risks shines a light on the critical need for parents to help their kids not only avoid substance use risks, but also engage in wellness habits that will increase their health, fitness, success, and positive identity.   

To accomplish this goal, parents and guardians need to ask their youth three essential questions.     

1.   Which behaviors are critical to living an active and healthy lifestyle (e.g., regular exercise, eating health, getting adequate sleep, controlling daily stress), and how can major risk habits like alcohol, tobacco, marijuana and illicit drug use interfere with reaching wellness behavior goals and developing a positive self-identity?

2.   What positive outcomes and desired images result if I or my friends were to regularly practice individual wellness habits, like getting daily exercise or always eating healthy foods, over time?

3.   What specific risk behaviors do I want to make a commitment to avoid, and which wellness habits do I want to increase, so that I improve how I look, feel and perform in the future?         

Discussing these three critical questions with your youth can be done in three separate shorter, or one longer yet still brief prevention and wellness “pep talk.”  Regardless, I suggest choosing a quiet place to sit down with your youth to provide your pep talk.  

Let your youth know the purpose of the talk is to help them set positive wellness goals to improve how they look, feel and perform at things important to them, such as sports, school, and friendships.   

Once you’d discussed question #3, help your youth put into writing goals to both avoid alcohol, tobacco, marijuana and illicit drug use, and at the same time improve one or more wellness promoting habits, such as getting more physical activity, eating more nutritious foods, getting more sleep each night, or practicing strategies to control daily stress. 

Lastly, set a time the following week or so to review your youth’s goal achievement.  Ask your youth what successes they experienced during the past week, and make sure you praise them for even small improvements.  Discuss what might need to be changed to make future improvements, and have your youth complete a revised second set of goals if necessary.   

Don’t forget to keep all of your comments positive and supportive, and avoid any negative or critical comments to your youth.  Remember, your role is to provide positive messages and support your youth in achieving their goals to improve specific habits and images leading to a greater wellness lifestyle for your youth and the entire family.

Want to learn more about how to give effective brief parent-kid pep talks?  Check out our Prevention Plus Wellness (PPW) for Parents pep talk lessons on our website under the “Parents” header.


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