1. Choose your time carefully, perhaps over a meal and make sure you both have time for a relaxed conversation. Make a plan of how you want to start.
2. Think about where the conversation should not drift towards – make sure you don’t antagonise or sound as if you are preaching to them or laying down rules. Make them feel comfortable about discussing their experiences.
3. Ask open questions – and listen carefully – don’t interrupt your children when they are talking. Listen to what they have to say and make them feel comfortable about having an open discussion with you so that they know that you value their opinion.
4. Make sure you make it safe for your teenagers to open up to you without being fearful of the consequences. Try and stay relaxed.
5. Always be honest – base your conversation on fact and let them know that you are having these discussions out of deep concern for them as you care about their wellbeing and that of their friends.
6. Be willing to learn. Listen carefully to what they have to say and watch their body language. If they look awkward, then they probably will be wondering if they have the courage to tell you the truth. Make them feel that it’s okay to be honest and let them know that there are no penalties for telling the truth.
7. Try and be a good role model – if they see you indulging or drinking to excess it may make them think it’s okay to follow your lead. They may also say it is being hypocritical.
8. Look out for signs – If your child or teenager is unwilling to have a discussion with you or they seem withdrawn, anxious, paranoid, restless or agitated and lose their appetite it’s may be good idea to seek advice quickly.
9. Set boundaries – ensure that you set rules for your children to follow as guidelines of the behaviour you expect and make sure you enforce them so that they know where the line is.
10. Speak to other parents – talk to any other parents you know. If you are friends with your children’s friend’s parents consider having a conversation to discuss the subject of ’legal highs‘ so that they are informed too.