For parents, they have more of an influence over their children's decisions and values before they choose to use alcohol or not. That makes having serious talks about alcohol in your home at a young age important. Ultimately, your child needs education to prepare themselves for the peer pressure they will experience in social situations as they mature. As parents, it is our responsibility to help them develop the ability to make responsible decisions.
Prepare Yourself Before The Conversation
As a parent, educate yourself with facts to discuss with your child. It's important you tailor your conversation for their specific age. The sooner you start a conversation about alcohol, the better. No age is too soon! Schedule a time where the child will not be distracted by other things. It's important that after you discuss your concerns that you allow your child to respond. Listen closely and follow up with any additional questions they may have for you. Offer an open-door policy where they can talk to you about their difficulties or feelings without judgment.
Explaining Why You Don't Want Your Child To Drink
Before you have any conversation with your teen, it's important to clarify why you don't want them to drink. Firstly, you want them to know that drinking is illegal and can be dangerous. You also want them to know that drinking at a young age can affect their growth and self-respect as most children say they chose to have sex at a younger age because they had been drinking. Also, mention that you don't want them to develop a problem early with drinking that could lead to a life of addiction.
Set Family Rules
It's important your children know that using drugs or drinking alcohol is against the family rules and serious consequences will ensue. Not only do you need them to understand the serious consequences they can have on their lives, your life and their health, but the consequences they will face as a result of their bad decision.
It's important you set realistic boundaries and limits on your kids, so that they can still be a normal teenager without feeling caged. Oftentimes kids who feel tied down are the ones that act out first.
The way you choose to speak to your child is important. If they feel annoyed or alienated, they most likely won't come to you with issues. However, if you seem open-minded, kind and concerned, they may feel comfortable to talk openly with you as they grow in their teen years. It's also important that you control your emotions as your teen may share something shocking or upsetting with you at some point, and they may not want to again if you are judgmental, emotional or angry.
It's important to state how proud you are that not only are they choosing positive things for their future, but they are choosing to abstain from drugs and alcohol when it is around them.
Set An Example
Ultimately, children learn by example, so if you are drinking excessively in the house, they are going to believe it's acceptable. While you are an adult, try to keep drinking to a minimum in front of your children and teach them that it is ok for adults to drink, but in moderation and while they are not driving or putting others in risk.
While your child is growing up, it doesn't mean you need to be clingy or completely hands-off. Learning how to effectively communicate with your teenager is important and can lead to positive things for your children. Offering an ear for your child when they need to discuss concerns or situations they have been in can lead to a powerful teaching tool and a way to influence your child in a positive light.