How to talk to your kids about weed at any age from toddlers to teens

how to talk to your kids about weed

The proliferation of legalization means that more parents have access to cannabis for relaxation, fun, or whatever medical applications they rely on. Increased access means more attention on safe storage of weed products in a house with kids and regular conversations throughout their lives about cannabis use. As for the latter, parents may wonder how to talk to your kids about weed, and the key thing to note is that the conversations should cater to the child’s age.

Each age group is in a generally similar space in their social and emotional learning (SEL), which can correlate to how much they’re ready to learn about cannabis. For those parents that like a teaching tool, consider bringing along a children’s book about cannabis. This list matches lessons about cannabis safety to SEL in these age groups ranging from toddlers to newly-minted adults.

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Toddler and preschool: ages 2 to 4

This age is filled with energy, curiosity, and feeling a wide range of emotions while finding the tools to filter them. Relating that to weed products, this is an appropriate time to introduce the safety symbols on weed packaging as a warning. Cannabis products should never be in locations where a child could handle them. However, if they somehow do, teaching toddlers about the cannabis warning symbol on most regulated packaging is a useful practice.

Washington state sends stickers of “Mr. Yuck” to families, a bright green character meant to inform kids that whatever is in a stickered container is poisonous. Cannabis warning symbols can be viewed the same way, as a symbol young children can be taught that signals: “No,” “danger,” or “Mommy’s Medicine” – whatever works in your home.

Grade school: ages 5 to 10

A lot of growth happens from ages five to 10. Throughout grade school, children learn loads about friendships and boundaries. Eventually, they start developing their own identity. They also start learning to keep secrets.

At this age, it might be appropriate to start holding conversations around why adults consume cannabis–ensuring the messaging always centers that products are for adults only. There is also space to speak about the plant itself: how it grows, what it smells like, or any other horticultural interests the kiddos might have.

Middle school: ages 11 to 13

Peer pressure, privacy, and testing ways to fit in are key themes for middle schoolers. This is a crucial time for kids to develop their identity outside their family. However, that doesn’t mean a family can’t remain a sounding board for pre-teens.

While keeping non-threatening secrets and privacy is healthy, maintain a judgment-free line of communication around cannabis with your middle school kids. This can show that parents are safe to talk to about things like weed, alcohol, and other risky teenage behavior.

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Parents who smoke or eat pot products may consider being honest about their consumption with their kids. Most will figure it out on their own eventually. Being upfront and hosting a dialogue about adult use and how that compares to teen use may guide their future decisions at parties or other places where kids might be offered weed.

High school: ages 14 to 18

By the final years of adolescence, teens are often hyper-independent, moody, and possibly impulsive. Keep an open conversation about weed and other substances that might be offered or present at social gatherings at this age. Harm reduction and risk management are pillars at this age in the cannabis conversation.

Explaining the dangers of driving high, whether they are the passenger or the driver, is essential. Remaining judgment-free may also ensure that teens call their parents for help rather than get behind the wheel after blazing.

Some parents may also feel the need to talk about product safety. For example, sun-grown flower from the regulated market has a different safety consideration than gas station THC. Teens are probably ready for information on product safety, even if the goal is that they refrain from consumption until age 21.

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How to talk to your kids about weed

When pondering how to talk to your kids about weed, meeting them where they’re at mentally, emotionall, and socially is essential. Kids develop social skills at their own pace, though they are often at similar stages in these defined age groups. These stages relate to the lessons that are being learned and the way that children build their identities. Therefore, talking about weed should play into a child’s emotional age.

Curious toddlers can learn about the cannabis symbol and what that means, and teens should be educated on the dangers of high driving, peer pressure, and product warnings. There’s a proper time for every conversation. For many in the post-prohibition era, cannabis is on the docket from the jump.

Cara Wietstock is senior content producer of and has been working in the cannabis space since 2011. She has covered the cannabis business beat for Ganjapreneur and The Spokesman Review. You can find her living in Bellingham, Washington with her husband, son, and a small zoo of pets.