Not sure how to talk to your kids about underage drinking? Join the club.
If you have children ages 9 to 15, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) says it’s time to start talking. Most six-year-olds know that alcohol is only for adults, but many start to view drinking more positively between the ages of 9 and 13. Some children as young as 9 are starting to experiment with alcohol. About 10% of 12-year-olds say they’ve tried alcohol. By age 15 that number jumps to 50%. [Tweet this.]
The good news is studies have shown that parents have a significant influence on young people’s decisions about alcohol consumption. In fact, about 83% of children say parents are their leading influence when it comes to their stance on underage drinking. [Tweet this.]
It’s clear parents have the power, but many are unsure how to wield it.
SAMHSA highlights the following recommendations to prevent your child from drinking alcohol:
- Be aware of factors that may increase the risk of childhood alcohol use, including:
- Social transitions like graduating to middle or high school or getting a driver’s license
- Social and/or emotional problems
- A family history of alcoholism
- Contact with peers involved in troubling activities
- Be a positive adult role model.
- Stay away from alcohol in high-risk situations. For example, never drink and drive.
- Get help if you think you have an alcohol-related problem
- Do not give alcohol to your children
- Support your children and give them space to grow
- Be involved in your children’s lives. Know where they are, what they’re doing and who they’re with.
- Set limits, but encourage your children’s growing independence.
- Set clear rules and enforce the rules you set.
- Help your children find ways to have fun without alcohol.
- Help your children avoid dangerous situations such as riding in a car driven by someone who has been drinking.
Want to reach out to your kids to reinforce your message while they’re out with their friends? Try a text message like one of these:
- Be careful tonight. If your friends offer you a drink, just say you promised me no.
- I want you to have fun 2nite, but be safe. Love, Mom/Dad
- Just because your friends drink, doesn’t mean you have to. I’m here if you need anything.
- Resisting peer pressure is tough, but you can do whatever you set your mind to.