How to get your kids to say "no" to drugs

Liz Laugeson, PsyD Psychologist & Author, shares advice for parents on the best methods for teaching your child to say "No" to drugs, alcohol and peer pressure
Teaching Your Child to Say No to Drugs and Alcohol
KidsInTheHouse the Ultimate Parenting Resource
Kids in the House Tour

How to get your kids to say "no" to drugs

We know that peer pressure is very common amongst adolescents. Kids get pressured to do things that maybe they’re not comfortable with all of the time. And a lot of kids will give into that peer pressure. But when parents give advice to kids about what to do in these situations, they’ll often tell them to do things, like just say, “No.” Which isn’t always necessarily the most effective strategy to just say no. Kids will often continue to pressure you. So what we teach our kids to do in response to peer pressure is to begin by saying no, something like, “No. No, thank you.” Something like that. If the person continues to pressure them, you want to give some kind of an excuse for why you’re not doing what they want you to do. So let’s say they’re offering you a beer and you’re not comfortable with that. You could say something like… you could make an excuse or give a reason like, “It gives me a headache.” Or you could offer some kind of a personal consequence, “You know, I’ve got to get up early in the morning.” You could say something that has to do with your own personal statement about yourself like, “I don’t really drink.” Or you could play the support role even and say, “You’re not going to drive.” But you give some kind of an excuse and just one excuse is usually fine. From there if they continue to peer pressure you, you want to use what we call ‘the broken record’ technique, which is kind of going back to that, “No, thank you. I’m good.” “No, really, I’m good.” Kind of over and over. If they continue to peer pressure you from there, you can try stalling, saying, “You know, maybe later.” You could try changing the subject, that can be effective sometimes. But if they continue to peer pressure you after all of these attempts, then what you can do is to do this thing we call reversing the peer pressure. And that’s where you actually ask them something like, “Why do you care so much if I have a beer?” And usually the response is, “Well, I don’t.” And then, of course, you can change the subject from there. But if they continue to peer pressure you at that point, you might need to give them a cold shoulder. You might need to remove yourself from that situation. So the bottom line is that there is a lot more that we can do in terms of helping our kids to handle peer pressure. It’s not just about saying no. There’s many different things that they can do to handle these rather difficult situations.

Liz Laugeson, PsyD Psychologist & Author, shares advice for parents on the best methods for teaching your child to say "No" to drugs, alcohol and peer pressure


Expert Bio

More from Expert

Liz Laugeson, PsyD

Psychologist & Author

Dr. Elizabeth Laugeson is a licensed clinical psychologist and an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior.  Dr. Laugeson is the Director of The Help Group – UCLA Autism Research Alliance, which is a collaborative research initiative between The Help Group and the UCLA Semel Institute, dedicated to developing and expanding applied clinical research in the treatment of children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders.  She is also the Director of the UCLA PEERS Clinic, which is an outpatient hospital-based clinic providing parent-assisted social skills training for adolescents and young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders and other social impairments. 

Dr. Laugeson has been a principal investigator and collaborator on a number of studies funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) investigating social skills training for youth with developmental disabilities from preschool to early adulthood and is the co-developer of an evidence-based social skills intervention for teens and young adults known as PEERS. She was the two-time recipient of the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award from the NIH from 2004-2007, recipient of the Semel Scholar Award for Junior Faculty Career Development in 2008, and received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Pepperdine University in 2010. Dr. Laugeson has presented her research at international conferences throughout the world including the U.S., Canada, England, Italy, and Australia. Her work has been featured on national and international media outlets such as People Magazine, USA Today, the LA Times, New York Times, Washington Post, CBS, NBC, and Channel 4 in the United Kingdom.

Peer Pressure, Peer Pressure, Friends, Friends
More Parenting Videos from Liz Laugeson, PsyD >
Enter your email to
download & subscribe
to our newsletter