Underage drinking is a concern parents face as their children enter their tween and teen years. Whether sneaking alcohol at a friend’s house or during a college party, teens are faced with pressure from their peers to begin drinking before they reach the age of 21. Pediatrics–Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics notes that underage drinking is harmful for teens and often associated with vehicle accidents, date rape, suicide, homicide and poor performance in school. Parents who plan early prevention strategies can minimize underage drinking in their households.
Educate yourself on teen drinking, the dangers and the causes. Use resources such as SurgeonGeneral.gov, StopAlcoholAbuse.gov and the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism to find out more information on teenage drinking and how to prevent it. The more information you discover on this topic, the better equipped you’ll be to help your teen avoid alcohol use, until he reaches the legal drinking age.
Talk to Your Teen
Ask your teen her thoughts on alcohol and what she knows about alcohol abuse and the dangers of underage drinking. Be open and listen actively, letting your teen express her true feelings. An open dialogue can help your teen feel at ease talking to you whether it’s about drinking, a problem with a friend or even things a simple as her day at school.
Tell your teen that you expect him not to drink. Set ground rules your child must follow when it comes to consuming alcohol. Let your child know that you expect him to following your no drinking rules whether he is in your home, at a friend’s house or on vacation out of state.
Be a Role Model
Be a role model for your teen. Many adults consume alcohol during the holidays, at happy hour and even after a long day at work. If you drink, do so responsibly and avoid getting drunk, driving while intoxicated and other negative, alcohol-induced behaviors that may not set a positive example for your child.
Talk to a Doctor
Let your pediatrician to talk to your teen and ask questions about alcohol use during his routine appointments. U.S. News and World Report notes that because of the severe health risks involved with underage drinking, pediatricians are screening teenagers and tweens to find out whether they are using alcohol. Leave the examination room, and give your doctor and your teen some privacy, as your teen may be uncomfortable admitting to alcohol use with you in the room.
Teach Your Child
Teach your child about decision making and healthy risks. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism notes that some teens who engage in underage drinking are led to do so by a desire for risk. Suggest healthy risks such as trying a new sport, entering a writing competition, rock-climbing or volunteering at a local homeless shelter.