Things Your Teenager Should Know About Alcohol
Whether you like to think about it or not, once your teenager gets past 16 they may start to think about alcohol. It is hard to imagine when they are so young and innocent, but their heads may turn towards what their friends are doing.
From a safety point of view, the best practice is to talk to your teenager about alcohol before they are interested in it. Stay ahead and make sure they understand the dangers and of course, the law regarding alcohol use.
Don’t wait until it is a problem– Most teenagers try alcohol before they are even 16 years old and, therefore, it is imperative you have the conversation once your child becomes a teen. Have a frank discussion about the impact alcohol has on the body and how it leaves them vulnerable especially if in strange places while drinking.
Have a healthy attitude to alcohol at home – This may not please parents, but if you are going to be discussing alcohol with your youngster you need to look at your alcohol use too. Kids learn first from home so if anyone in the house has an unhealthy relationship with alcohol then you may need to tackle that. Equally, if you have older kids falling in drunk it can confuse impressionable teens so as your child grows up, ask everyone who may drink to be responsible. The whole family should get on board.
Keep the door open – You want your teenager to trust you and know that regardless of what happens when they are out that you need to know. Remind your teenager regularly that if they find themselves in a difficult situation that they can ring you even if it means they might be in trouble. Tell your kids regardless of what they do or mistakes they make that you are on hand to help them or their friends. Ask for trust and hope you get it back in return.
Understand the “why” – Teenagers will try alcohol because they are curious, and some may not even like it. Others drink to forget things, and some want to rebel too. If your teen is suddenly drinking, you need to figure out why they are and sort out the problem. If it is peer pressure, perhaps your teen needs to find new friends and if your teen is having some problems you need to get them the help they need. Then, there is the simple reason of just trying something new and it gets out of control. Try and avoid these situations by having a good relationship with your teen, teaching them to say “no” to peers and ensuring they are happy and secure in themselves.
Don’t forget the dangers – Maybe you don’t want to tell your teen about the dangers of alcohol, but they need to know. They could put themselves at risk of serious health problems as well as the risk of gaining weight, bad skin and bad breath. The impact of drinking on the brain and mental health can be huge and as teenagers find themselves invincible while under the influence of alcohol, they can put themselves in harm's way. Teenagers may get into arguments, have sexual encounters and walk streets alone as they have no sense of fear while drinking heavily.
Try not to lecture – Teenagers won’t like being lectured and you should teach them about the dangers but remain calm. For your teen to trust you and call you if they get into trouble, they need to know you are not going to fly off the handle. Be there for your teen, always.
Emma Hayes is a thirty-something mum of two girls aged 16 and 10, planting her right into the teenage and tween-age years! Follow her on Twitter at @EmmaHayes25.