e-book Teenagers, Alcohol and Drugs: What your kids really want and need to know about alcohol and drugs

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  1. Kids and Alcohol
  2. Contributors
  3. Teens: Alcohol And Other Drugs
  4. Why You Should Talk With Your Child About Alcohol and Other Drugs

To make the most of your conversation, take some time to think about the issues you want to discuss before you talk with your child.

Kids and Alcohol

Think of this talk with your child as the first part of an ongoing conversation. And remember, do make it a conversation, not a lecture! You might begin by finding out what your child thinks about alcohol and drinking. Ask your young teen what he or she knows about alcohol and what he or she thinks about teen drinking. Ask your child why he or she thinks kids drink.

Listen carefully without interrupting. Important Facts About Alcohol. Although many kids believe that they already know everything about alcohol, myths and misinformation abound.


Here are some important facts to share:. Alcohol is a powerful drug that slows down the body and mind. It impairs coordination; slows reaction time; and impairs vision, clear thinking, and judgment. A ounce can of beer about 5 percent alcohol , a 5-ounce glass of wine about 12 percent alcohol , and 1. People tend to be very bad at judging how seriously alcohol has affected them.

That means many individuals who drive after drinking think they can control a car—but actually cannot. Good Reasons Not to Drink. In talking with your child about reasons to avoid alcohol, stay away from scare tactics. Most young teens are aware that many people drink without problems, so it is important to discuss the consequences of alcohol use without overstating the case. You want your child to avoid alcohol. Your values and attitudes count with your child, even though he or she may not always show it.

To maintain self-respect.

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  • Start the conversation early (and have it often).

Teens say the best way to persuade them to avoid alcohol is to appeal to their self-respect—let them know that they are too smart and have too much going for them to need the crutch of alcohol. Teens also are likely to pay attention to examples of how alcohol might lead to embarrassing situations or events—things that might damage their self-respect or alter important relationships.

Drinking is illegal. Because alcohol use under the age of 21 is illegal, getting caught may mean trouble with the authorities. Drinking can be dangerous. One of the leading causes of teen deaths is motor vehicle crashes involving alcohol. Drinking also makes a young person more vulnerable to sexual assault and unprotected sex. You have a family history of alcoholism. If one or more members of your family has suffered from alcoholism, your child may be somewhat more vulnerable to developing a drinking problem.

Alcohol affects young people differently than adults. Drinking while the brain is still maturing may lead to long-lasting intellectual effects and may even increase the likelihood of developing alcohol dependence later in life. Research shows that teens who expect such positive effects are more likely to drink at early ages. However, you can help to combat these dangerous myths by watching TV shows and movies with your child and discussing how alcohol is portrayed in them. For example, television advertisements for beer often show young people having an uproariously good time, as though drinking always puts people in a terrific mood.

Watching such a commercial with your child can be an opportunity to discuss the many ways that alcohol can affect people—in some cases bringing on feelings of sadness or anger rather than carefree high spirits. How to Handle Peer Pressure. What can your daughter say when she goes to a party and a friend offers her a beer? What should their response be if they are offered a ride home with an older friend who has been drinking?

Brainstorm with your teen for ways that he or she might handle these and other difficult situations, and make clear how you are willing to support your child. This is the question many parents dread—yet it is highly likely to come up in any family discussion of alcohol. The reality is that many parents did drink before they were old enough to legally do so.

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Teens: Alcohol And Other Drugs

This is a judgment call. If you believe that your drinking or drug use history should not be part of the discussion, you can simply tell your child that you choose not to share it. Another approach is to admit that you did do some drinking as a teenager, but that it was a mistake—and give your teen an example of an embarrassing or painful moment that occurred because of your drinking. This approach may help your child better understand that youthful alcohol use does have negative consequences.

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Encourage your teen to plan the party with a responsible friend so that he or she will have support if problems arise. Research strongly shows that active, supportive involvement by parents and guardians can help teens avoid underage drinking and prevent later alcohol misuse. The message is clear: Young teens still need plenty of adult supervision. Some ways to provide it:. Monitor Alcohol Use in Your Home. If you keep alcohol in your home, keep track of the supply. If possible, however, encourage him or her to invite friends over when you are at home.

Connect With Other Parents. Getting to know other parents and guardians can help you keep closer tabs on your child. Friendly relations can make it easier for you to call the parent of a teen who is having a party to be sure that a responsible adult will be present and that alcohol will not be available. Generally, your child will be more open to your supervision if he or she feels you are keeping tabs because you care, not because you distrust him or her.

Although each family should develop agreements about teen alcohol use that reflect their own beliefs and values, some possible family rules about drinking are:. Older siblings will not encourage younger brothers or sisters to drink and will not give them alcohol. Set a Good Example. Parents and guardians are important role models for their children—even children who are fast becoming teenagers. Studies indicate that if a parent uses alcohol, his or her children are more likely to drink as well.

But even if you use alcohol, there may be ways to lessen the likelihood that your child will drink.

How to talk to your teens about drugs and alcohol

Some suggestions:. I need a drink. Let your child see that you have other, healthier ways to cope with stress, such as exercise; listening to music; or talking things over with your spouse, partner, or friend. When you entertain other adults, serve alcohol-free beverages and plenty of food. If anyone drinks too much at your party, make arrangements for them to get home safely.

Your child can learn to resist alcohol or anything else he or she may feel pressured into. Your attitudes and behavior toward teen drinking also influence your child. Avoid making jokes about underage drinking or drunkenness, or otherwise showing acceptance of teen alcohol use.

6 Tips for Parents of Teens

Remember, too, that in almost every State it is illegal to provide alcohol to minors who are not family members. So it makes sense to try to encourage your young teen to develop friendships with kids who do not drink and who are otherwise healthy influences on your child. You can then invite the kids you feel good about to family get-togethers and outings and find other ways to encourage your child to spend time with those teens.

Why You Should Talk With Your Child About Alcohol and Other Drugs

While it may be tempting to simply forbid your child to see that friend, such a move may make your child even more determined to hang out with him or her. Instead, you might try pointing out your reservations about the friend in a caring, supportive way. Encourage Healthy Alternatives to Alcohol. One reason kids drink is to beat boredom. So it makes sense to encourage your child to participate in supervised after-school and weekend activities that are challenging and fun.

According to a recent survey of preteens, the availability of enjoyable, alcohol-free activities is a big reason for deciding not to use alcohol. Start by asking your child and other kids what they want to do, because they will be most likely to participate in activities that truly interest them.