Talking to Youth Ages 13–16


Start the Conversation

Youth with supportive parents, teachers, coaches and other adults are less likely to use marijuana underage. That's why it's important to talk with youth before they try marijuana for the first time. Start the conversation early. Don't try to squeeze it in on the way to school or when you only have a few minutes. Find time to have these conversations that works for both of you.


Be a good listener. Get their opinion. Don’t talk over or down to them. When you allow them to be heard, they’re more likely to listen when you speak.

Set Clear Rules

Make your rules clear and stick to them. Let them know what will happen for not following them. By letting your child know what will happen if they don’t follow the rules, they’ll be more inclined to make responsible decisions. Youth who have clear family rules are nearly two times less likely to use marijuana. 

Role-play How to Say "No"

Work with teens to identify tools to deal with peer pressure. Many young people don't realize saying no can be as simple as saying, "If I get caught, I won't be able to do sports, theater, dance, etc." Also, encourage youth to use you as an excuse to avoid marijuana use. For example, "My parents would ground me for the summer."

Focus on the Positive

Encourage them to make choices that help them achieve their goals. Remind them that four out of five high schoolers don't use marijuana. Use facts, not fear.

Talk About Friends

Friends are a big part of your children’s lives, so get to know who their friends are, what they're like and how they influence our children.

Build Confidence

Teach them that if they want to reach their goals, they need to focus on more than just marijuana. Being labeled a "pothead" could hurt their chances of getting a job or even dating someone they like. Praise your children when they make smart choices. Positive reinforcement can go a long way. Let them know that making smart choices will bring about positive outcomes.

Keep Your Relationship Strong

Let them know you're on their side. Take interest in your kids’ interests. Spend time with them. You want them to make the best decisions for themselves.

They Care What You Think

You might be surprised at the effect that your words, actions and opinions can have on your child's choices. They don’t want to lose your trust, so it is important to tell your kids how you feel about underage marijuana use and the consequences.