Is Your Kid Drinking? How to Open Up Lines of Communication

Kids and Drinking

Kids and drinking. It’s happened long before this blog and will happen long after. But how can you give your child or teen the benefit of your experience without sounding preachy?

Here are a few tips to open up that all-too-important line of communication.

Just the Facts?

When we’re uncomfortable with a subject, it’s really easy to lapse into spitting out facts and figures and even tinging them with a little threat here or there. Make sure to answer their questions thoughtfully.

Many states in the U.S. have carved out 21 as being the legal drinking age. Be ready for your kid to ask why that number was chosen. What makes a 21-year-old any better equipped to handle alcohol and the choices that go along with it?

The answer? It’s pretty arbitrary but governments had to use a benchmark and 21 is the time when most kids have reached adulthood.

Listen Well

When talking with your kid about drinking, start by being a good listener. Peer pressure to drink or do other drugs heightens as they get older and go to high school and college.

The scary factoid that exists today is that studies done on underage drinking show that the average age when kids experiment with alcohol is 11.

Yup, you read that right. Sixth grade.

Ask your kid why he wants to drink. What worries him most? Is it not fitting in with his friends who are drinking? Does she drink to feel better about herself?

Role Playing

Many teens … and adults, too … have trouble saying no to peers. Do some role playing and get your kid in the habit of saying no, confidently, to drugs or alcohol.

It’s not easy to do but if you practice enough with your kids they’ll get the hang of it.

Make Sure They Know Your Family Values

We know someone who has handled her teen’s beer drinking really well. She’s a single mom and sat her senior in high school down to chat about what her friends were doing when they got together. While she didn’t condone drinking, she knew that there was also not much she could do to stop it short of locking her daughter in her room and that would shut off the communication she had worked hard to build.

What did they do? They made a plan together. Mom agreed not to scream at her daughter if she had been drinking as long as the kid called her if she needed a ride home because she over-indulged.

Since this plan was set, the daughter has never come home drunk nor has she had to call for a ride. It has helped her make smart choices including saying no to alcohol even at college.

Be a Good Role Model

If you as a parent reach for alcohol the moment you step through the door every evening, that is sending a message to your child that the only way to unwind at the end of the day is by drinking.

Remember, your behavior reflects your beliefs and values and your saying no to the regular use of alcohol will help them do the same.

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