Talking to Your Kids about Alcohol
Parental guidance and support are important during the growth of a child, especially when they reach adolescence. This is the time when their friends and media heavily influence their behavior. You need to accept that your child is growing up and their need for independence and privacy is increasing. So you can support them better, make sure to establish trust and communicate with them regularly. They may be encountering alcohol for the first time so it’s important to talk to them about the dangers of underage drinking. This can be a difficult conversation to have with your kids, but it’s a necessary one to make sure they can make an informed decision in the future.
Learn about Their Views on Alcohol
It’s best to start by asking your kids about their views on alcohol. Ask them what they know about it and what they think about teen drinking. When they say their opinion, listen carefully and avoid interrupting them. This kind of approach will make them feel heard and respected. It can also give you an idea of which topics you need to focus on.
During this time, you can show you care about what they think through your body language. Give them your undivided attention by keeping your smartphone in another room, looking them in the eye, and avoiding crossing your arms because this can indicate that you are not open to what they say.
Give Them the Right Information
Once they have said their views about teen drinking, it’s time to address any false information they may have. Make sure to share important facts, particularly about the disadvantages of consuming alcohol.
- It’s illegal for people under the age of 21 to drink and they can get in trouble with the authorities if they violate this law. Even if they are not caught by the police, the parents of their friends may no longer allow them to see each other.
- Alcohol can slow down the body and mind. It can impair vision, judgment, and coordination. It can also prevent the drinker from thinking clearly and reacting immediately.
- Beer and wine are not safer alcoholic beverages compared to distilled spirits such as rum, gin, vodka, whiskey, and tequila.
- Depending on the type of alcohol consumed, it can take several hours for a single drink to leave the system. There’s nothing they can do to speed up this process.
- Most people don’t have clear judgment about how alcohol affects them. This means that they may think they are capable of driving safely after drinking, but actually cannot. Also, getting intoxicated can make a young person vulnerable to sexual assault and unprotected sex.
- Teenagers are also vulnerable to developing serious alcohol problems.
Answer Their Questions Honestly
Kids are naturally inquisitive and it’s best to answer their questions honestly and immediately. Your instinct as a parent may be to delay or hide the truth because you think they are not ready to hear them, but this won’t be helpful. Also, refrain from hurtful teasing or criticism. Make sure to show them respect and let them feel that their questions are valuable. Even if you are not having a serious discussion and they just show curiosity about alcohol, respond to them truthfully and earnestly. For instance, if they see you drinking wine and they ask about it, be honest about your drinking habit and explain why it’s inappropriate for them to do the same.
Use Different Scenarios as Examples
It’s easy to tell your kids not to drink, but this may not be enough to stop them when they feel pressured to join their friends. Instead of just telling them what to do, you can brainstorm with them about how to handle specific situations. By involving them in coming up with the best response, they can practice with you and build their confidence to decline alcohol. If you believe sharing your experience with alcohol as a teen can help guide your kids, then go ahead and discuss it with them. The best way to approach this is to admit the mistake of participating in underage drinking and give your kid an example of the consequences it brought. However, if you choose not to make it part of your conversation, simply tell them that you do not want to discuss it. It’s more important to share words of encouragement for sobriety with them even after your conversation.
Develop a Strong Support System
Creating a strong bond with your kids is vital to discouraging them from underage drinking. A close and supportive family bond can help them gain confidence and feel secure so they aren’t easily swayed by peer pressure. You can promote this bond by showing that you care. Regularly spend one-on-one time with your kids and give them your undivided attention. You can do activities together like biking, going out for dinner, or visiting the park. Also, it’s good to make it clear how much you love and support them. Let them know that if they are ever in a situation where other kids are drinking, your kids can call you and you’ll be there to pick them up. This won’t just prepare them for high-pressure circumstances, but it can also instill their trust in you.
It’s not easy to discuss alcohol and underage drinking with young kids. However, it is a must to make sure they understand the consequences that come with drinking alcohol. When you engage them in a conversation, you can also strengthen your relationship with them. It’s important to let them know they can rely on you for support. Despite the challenges, an informed choice is better than just letting them be influenced into unhealthy and harmful behaviors.