9-12 Year Olds

What types of drugs can the world of a 9-12 year old include?


Substances in your fourth to sixth grader’s world can include: 

Tobacco, Alcohol, Ritalin, Adderall, Inhalants, Marijuana.  

What to say to 9-12 year olds



Conversations are one of the most powerful tools parents can use to connect with — and protect — their kids.  But, when tackling some of life’s tougher topics, especially those about drugs and alcohol, just figuring out what to say can be a challenge. The following scripts will help you get conversations going with your 9-to-12-year-old child.


Your child is just starting middle school and you know that eventually, he will be offered drugs and alcohol.

What to Say

There are a lot of changes ahead of you in middle school. I know we talked about drinking and drugs when you were younger, but now is when they’re probably going to be an issue. I’m guessing you’ll at least hear about kids who are experimenting, if not find yourself some place where kids are doing stuff that is risky. I just want you to remember that I’m here for you and the best thing you can do is just talk to me about the stuff you hear or see. Don’t think there’s anything I can’t handle or that you can’t talk about with me, okay?


You find out that kids are selling prescription drugs at your child’s school. Your child hasn’t mentioned it and you want to get the conversation about it started.

What to Say

Hey, you probably know that parents talk to each other and find things out about what’s going on at school… I heard there are kids selling pills – prescriptions that either they are taking or someone in their family takes. Have you heard about kids doing this?


Your child’s favorite celebrity—the one he or she really looks up to—has been named in a drug scandal.

What to Say

I think it must be really difficult to live a celebrity life and stay away from that stuff. Being in the public eye puts a ton of pressure on people, and many turn to drugs because they think drugs will relieve that stress. But a lot of famous people manage to stay clean – like [name others who don’t do drugs] – and hopefully this incident is going to help [name of celebrity] straighten out his life. Of course, people make mistakes – the real measure of a person is how accountable he is when he messes up. It will be interesting to see how he turns out, won’t it?

The thing is, when a person uses drugs and alcohol—especially a kid because he’s still growing—it changes how his brain works and makes him do really stupid things. Most people who use drugs and alcohol need a lot of help to get better. I hope [name] has a good doctor and friends and family members to help him/her.

Scenario Your child tells you he was offered prescription drugs by a classmate — but said no.

What to Say After praising your child for making a good choice and for telling you about it, let him know that in the future, he can always blame you to get out of a bad situation. Say, “If you’re ever offered drugs at school, tell that person, ‘My mother would kill me if I took that and then she wouldn’t let me play baseball.’”

Scenario Your child comes home reeking of cigarette smoke.

What to Say I know you’re curious and you wanted to see what smoking was like, but as you can see, it’s pretty disgusting and it probably made you cough and gag a lot. Your clothes and your breath and your hair all stink. Is that how you want to be known? As the kid who stinks?


One in six teens in America has tried huffing — inhaling the fumes from everyday items like nail polish remover, hair spray, and cooking spray. It’s probably been a while since you’ve talked to your child about the dangers of the products under the kitchen sink — but it’s important to reiterate the warning.

What to Say I know it’s been a while since I talked to you about the dangers of cleaning products and that they should only be used for cleaning. But I’ve heard that some kids are using them to get high. I just want to let you know that even if your friends say, “Hey, we can buy this stuff at the supermarket so it’s totally okay to sniff it,” it’s not. Inhaling fumes from cleaners or products like cooking spray and nail polish remover is as dangerous as doing all the drugs we’ve talked about, like marijuana.

Now, let’s talk about ways you can get out of the situation if that happens. What do you think you should say? Remember, you can always blame me and say, “My mom would kill me if I tried that!”

This information is taken from the Partnership for Drug Free Kids-Parent Toolkit: http://www.drugfree.org/the-parent-toolkit/age-by-age-advice/9-12-year-old-what-to-say/ 

We’re here to help: Our Parents Toll-Free Helpline 1-855-DRUGFREE (1-855-378-4373) is a nationwide support service that offers assistance to parents who want to talk to someone about their child’s drug use and drinking.

Tips for talking to 9-12 year olds



Preteens: They’re on a quest to figure out their place in the world. When it comes to the way they view that world, they tend to give their friends’ opinions a great deal of power while, at the same time, they’re starting to question their parents’ views and messages. Your advice may be challenged — but it will be heard and will stay with your child much more than he or she will ever admit.  Here are 8 tips to help you help your preteen live a healthy, drug-free life:

1. Make sure your child knows your rules — and that you’ll enforce the consequences if rules are broken. This applies to no-use rules about tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs — as well as bedtimes and homework. Research shows that kids are less likely to use tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs if their parents have established a pattern of setting clear rules and consequences for breaking those rules.

2. Act out scenes with your child where people offer her drugs. Kids who don’t know what to say or how to get away are more likely to give in to peer pressure. Let her know that she can always use you as an excuse and say: “No, my mom [or dad, aunt, etc.] will kill me if I smoke a cigarette.” Explain why she shouldn’t continue friendships with kids who have offered her cigarettes, alcohol or pills.

3. Tell your child what makes him so special. Puberty can upend a child’s self-esteem. Feelings of insecurity, doubt and pressure may creep in. Offset those feelings with a lot of positive comments about his life and who he is as an individual — and not just when he brings home an A.

4. Give your children the power to make decisions that go against their peers. You can reinforce this message through small things such as encouraging your child to pick out the sneakers he likes rather than the pair his four friends have.

5. Base drug and alcohol messages on facts, not fear. Kids can’t argue with facts but their new need for independence may allow them to get around their fears. Also, kids love to learn facts — both run-of-the-mill and truly odd. Preteens aren’t concerned with future problems that might result from experimentation with tobacco, alcohol or other drugs, but they are concerned about their appearance — sometimes to the point of obsession. Tell them about the smelly hair and ashtray breath caused by cigarettes. Make sure they know that it would be hard to perform in the school play while high on marijuana.

6. Get to know your child’s friends — and their friends’ parents. Check in by phone or a visit once in a while to make sure they are giving their children the same kinds of messages you give your children about alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.

7. Help children separate reality from fantasy. Watch TV and movies with them and ask lots of questions to reinforce the distinction between the two. Remember to include advertising in your discussions, as those messages are especially powerful.

This information is taken from the Partnership for Drug Free Kids-Parent Toolkit:


We’re here to help: Our Parents Toll-Free Helpline 1-855-DRUGFREE (1-855-378-4373) is a nationwide support service that offers assistance to parents who want to talk to someone about their child’s drug use and drinking.