It’s common knowledge that teenagers are faced with some pretty serious temptations, especially when it comes to trying alcohol before they’re old enough to legally consume it. And for parents, the growing issue of problem and binge drinking among teens makes it essential to address this issue at home.
Acknowledging the Risk
- 72 percent of all U.S. high school students try alcohol by the end of their senior year
- 37 percent had consume alcohol by the end of their junior year
- Over 26 percent of students between the ages of 12 and 20 have used alcohol in the last month
- 17.4 percent of the same students admit to binge drinking in the last month
Make the First Move
Since young children are likely to be curious about drinking and trying alcohol, parents have no time to waste. You need to be prepared to have “the talk” with your children at an early age. Don’t let fear or feelings of discomfort prevent you from establishing an open line of communication with your son or daughter.
With that in mind, here are 7 tips that will help get the conversation started:
- Get Their Views: Before beginning what many kids will feel like is a lecture, it’s important to find out what your child knows about alcohol. Ask them why they think kids drink and if they see it as a problem. Don’t interrupt. This will not only help them feel heard, but is an easy way for them to feel comfortable talking about this.
- Give Them Facts: Rather than give them your thoughts on drinking, present them with facts from credible sources.
- Give Them Reasons Not to Drink This doesn’t mean presenting them with worst-case scenarios to scare them. Instead state the potential consequences of risky drinking such as drunk driving and potentially getting into trouble with the law.
- Address Peer Pressure It’s inevitable that a friend or fellow student of your child will ask them to drink at some point. Talk to them about how to handle this and give them tips on the best way to say “no.”
- Reveal Family History: If you have a family history of alcoholism talk about how that relative has suffered from it and how it impacted you. This could make your child more hesitant to drink.
- Discuss Your Own Alcohol Use: Many parents also drank alcohol before they could legally do so. If you did, you can own up to this while also saying that you now believe it was a mistake. Give an example of an embarrassing or difficult moment that occurred as a result. This may help them better understand that underage drinking can have consequences.
- Encourage Healthy Alternatives: Find out what they are interested and participate with them. Most kids begin drink out of boredom, so giving them activities to do will help remove this barrier.
Additional Reading: Keeping Your Teen Sober is a Family Affair
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