8 Helpful Tips for Children of Alcoholics or Substance Abusers

Talking with your kids about addiction is extremely important. Your children are a lot wiser and perceptive than you think. They might not know drinking, drugs, pornography, or infidelity are going on under your roof, but they know when things don’t feel right.

But you might be wondering…

How do we communicate without worrying them?
How do we tell them the truth without upsetting our partners?
What should we share and what should we leave out?

Inside the 
Love Over Mistakes program, you’ll learn how to communicate with your children. We cover what to say and how to avoid feeling guilty or worried about their future if you decide to leave or to stay.

The advice you’ll hear in the Love Over Mistakes program goes for children of all ages, so even if your kids are older or even out of the house, you’ll still learn some helpful tools that will bring you great peace.

Loving someone who is suffering from this disease causes trauma on all of us. It’s a family disease. But let’s not lose hope. There are many blessings that our children can experience while loving someone suffering from addiction.

Today, I am sharing some helpful tips that we don’t cover in the Love Over Mistakes program. These were sent to me from my sister-in-law who is a doctor of child psychology in New York City. I think you will find them very helpful. These tips were pulled from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network – an organization that has many great resources and I highly recommend.

Here are 8 tips to help children of alcoholics or substance abusers:

1. Each child reacts differently. Understand that reactions to trauma vary widely from child to child. Children may regress, demand extra attention, or think about their own needs before those of others. These are natural responses should not be met with anger or punishment.

2. Remember that the presence of a sensitive, nurturing, and predictable adult is one of the most important factors to children’s well-being.

3. Create a safe environment where basic needs (shelter, food, and clothing) are met and where routines exist to provide children with a sense of safety and predictability.

4. Keep children busy. Boredom can intensify negative thoughts and behaviors, but children are less likely to experience distress when they play and interact regularly.

5. Limit children’s exposure to images and descriptions of the trauma (e.g. in media and adult conversation). Talk with children about what they see and hear.

6. Make sure that adults and other caregivers receive the necessary attention, support, and care. Seek professional help if a child’s difficulties do not improve.

7. Find age-appropriate ways for children to help. Even when very young, children benefit from being able to make a positive difference in others’ lives while learning important lessons about empathy, compassion, and gratitude.

8. Emphasize hope and positivity. Children need to feel safe, secure, and positive about their present and future. Seeing and hearing stories of people helping people in difficult times is both healing and reassuring.

I hope you found these eight tips helpful. I know it can feel exhausting when you’re worried about the one you love getting sober and how their poor choices affect your children. But have hope – good things will come out of this. I promise.

If you’re looking for hope, consider joining the Love Over Mistakes program. We are here for you. Every step of the way.