Addiction is difficult to understand for people of any age. It is even more difficult for young children of alcoholics who can’t grasp why their parent or sibling is acting differently. Since addiction can cause a huge range of emotional and physical symptoms, children often end up in the middle of issues beyond their comprehension.

Explaining Drugs To A Child

Explaining drugs to children is a challenging conversation. Depending on their level of maturity, they may or may not be able to understand that a particular substance is at fault for their parent or sibling’s behavior.

The goal is to bring the conversation down to their level and help them understand that the person struggling with addiction is acting differently because of a particular substance outside of their control.

Children need to have room to ask questions and express their feelings. More than anything, they need to know the inconsistent behavior displayed by their loved one is not their fault, nor is it directed at them out of anger or malicious intent.

Explaining Addiction To A Child

The best way to explain addiction to a child is to explain that the substance in question makes their loved one want more and more even if they know it is wrong. Children often can relate to this experience with candy or toys that they always want even if they know they don’t need any more.

The key is to help them understand that some substances are dangerous and others may just give them a stomach ache for a little while. The difference should be clear.

How To Help Children Of Alcoholics

The one thing children of alcoholic parents need most is stability. Since alcoholism often causes parents to neglect their responsibilities or to act very different from one moment to the next, their children need help setting boundaries.

They also need a safe space to confront their concerns and voice their frustrations. Offer a listening ear and help comfort them when they are struggling to understand their parent’s behavior or feel as though they are responsible for the situation.

Children who grow up dealing with addiction in their families often face a lot of challenges in school and in their social lives. Since they cannot depend on the adult to guide them, they are more likely to turn to drugs or alcohol. The key is to provide them with a solid understanding of what addiction is and how it happens so that they can make the right decisions on their own.

Anthony Louis Center

If you, or a loved one, are struggling with addiction, contact the Anthony Louis Center today to learn more about services offered for children who need support.