Did you know that the average teen boy tries alcohol at age 11 and the average teen girl tries it at age 13? So if you have a teenager in the house, it’s very likely that they’ve already had their first sip of alcohol, and then some.
While this might cause some concern, you can’t control what your children do. After all, the more you forbid them from doing something, the more they’ll want to do it.
So if you want to prevent underage drinking, you might be stumped as to how you can do it effectively.
But rest assured that there are actual ways to keep your children from drinking without alienating them in the process. Read on for some good strategies you should use.
Be Open With Communication
If you think back to your own teenage years, you probably were confused and had a lot of questions about various things.
How did your own parents treat your inquisitive mind? If they constantly brushed you off, or worse yet, shut you down, then that might’ve driven a wedge between you and your parents. You probably felt like you couldn’t trust them with your feelings, so you never went to them for anything.
Most likely, you don’t want that to happen with you and your kids. The more they can trust you, the better the chance you have of catching underage drinking early on.
So the best thing you can do is be open with communication. Below are a few things to keep in mind.
It can be hard to communicate with a teen. So, you’ll want to try and ask open-ended questions instead of just “yes” or “no” ones.
For example, you can start off by asking your children if they’re interested in drinking. Whether they answer “yes” or “no,” don’t let the conversation end there.
Keep it going by asking them “why?” They might be surprised that you care to hear what they think. And you just might be surprised at what’s going on in their minds too!
Be Compassionate and Empathetic
All too often, parents brush off their children’s feelings as “just a phase” or “not that serious.” This can make teenagers feel belittled and as if they aren’t being heard and understood.
So no matter how trivial something might seem, always remember to be compassionate and empathetic. If your kids realize that you’re able to put yourself in their shoes, then they’ll trust you more and will be more willing to open up to you.
When it comes to preventing underage drinking, you might be tempted to use scare tactics. You might also want to only highlight the negatives of alcohol and avoid talking about the positives.
But teens are very good at picking up on things. If you’re all doom and gloom about alcohol, they’ll know something’s up. Adults love to drink, and most do so in moderation, after all, so something doesn’t add up here.
Be honest—yes, it’s fun, exciting, and sometimes relaxing to drink alcohol. But if you drink too much, you might end up making bad decisions and doing damage to your body, both mentally and physically. Not to mention, there’s the very real issue of addiction.
It might help to do some research and find out some underage drinking statistics so you can present them to your kids. That way, they know you’re not making things up.
It can also be useful to go over the consequences of underage drinking, especially the legal ones.
And if you have a family history of addiction, don’t hide this either. This makes your teens more susceptible to addiction, and they deserve to know about it. Together, you can discuss and figure out what this means for them.
Don’t Get Angry
You were a teenager once and you know just how many slipups you made in those years. So why should you expect your children to be perfect?
You should be clear about your expectations that they shouldn’t drink and that they shouldn’t hang around people who drink either. And you should also agree on the consequences if they don’t follow your expectations.
But if they do make a mistake, don’t get angry and yell at them. You can feel free to express that you’re disappointed but make that the extent of it and then carry out the agreed-upon consequences calmly.
Get Help if Needed
Maybe at the time of reading, you already suspect that your teen is drinking alcohol. This might have you worried, but don’t lose hope.
You’ll want to sit down with your child and ask them things such as how often do they drink, why they drink, and if they have trouble stopping. If they seem to have an alcohol dependence, you might want to send them to adolescent inpatient treatment.
These programs will help teens pave the road to healthy lifestyles. So the earlier you get intervention, the better.
Prevent Underage Drinking With Our Tips
You’ll probably recall that being a teenager wasn’t the easiest thing. Those years were tough, with changes in your body, new schools, and judgment from your peers. If you keep that in mind, then it can be easier to see why underage drinking is so appealing to your kids.
When you can show them that you understand and can put yourself in their shoes, your teens will be more receptive to what you have to say. By approaching them with the correct attitude and strategies, you’ll be able to keep them safe and increase the chances of them growing up happy and healthy.
If you feel that your teen can benefit from adolescent inpatient treatment, then get in touch with us today. We’ll be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.