Children are bombarded with diverse information every day. It can be challenging for them to make sense of it all and decide what they should believe and what they should not. As a parent, you can be a very influential voice in your child’s life. Even if you think they’re not listening, they most likely are. It’s important to start instilling positive behaviors and decision making skills in your child early on. Establish firm guidelines on what is and is not acceptable in your family.
This includes talking about alcohol and the dangers of underage drinking. Start when your child is young. You don’t have to scare them or use graphic images, but talk about the basics and why choosing not to drink is the best decision. There are many reasons why children and teenagers may try drinking:
- Peer pressure: Kids want to fit in with their friends and be accepted. They may think that if they say no, their friends will make fun of them or not want to hang out. In order to uphold their reputation or look cool, they may give in and try alcohol.
- Curiosity: Movies, television shows, magazines, and more all show people drinking. Children may be curious as to what all of the hype is about. They may associate it with a certain kind of image they want to attain or not realize the dangers of drinking.
- Familiarity: When children see their parents or family friends drinking frequently, it can become common place. They may not see the dangers because it has become part of everyday life and if their parents are doing it, what could be so bad?
Having ongoing conversations with your child can help them become more educated about the risks associated with drinking and encourage them to make positive choices. According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), “research has shown that kids who have conversations with their parents and learn a lot about the dangers of alcohol and drug use are 50% less likely to use alcohol and drugs than those who don’t have such conversations.”
You know your child, so keep conversation at a pace that is appropriate for them. When children are young, reinforce good choices and build open communication. You want them to feel comfortable talking to you about challenging situations and know that you are there to listen and to support them. In their teenage years they may be less apt to divulge personal information, so having this connection from early on can be beneficial.
Here are some things to keep in mind when discussing alcohol with your children:
- Be honest and answer truthfully while keeping discussions age appropriate.
- Spread out conversations; talking about alcohol shouldn’t be one big talk. It should be something that is ongoing to provide reinforcement and keep current with the latest facts and trends.
- Be realistic but don’t try to scare children into not using drugs or alcohol. This can backfire and cause more issues.
- Be a positive role model in your own alcohol consumption. Children are more observant than you may realize, so practice safe drinking habits in your own life.
- Use teachable moments and discuss alcohol use as it relates to current events, movies, books, television shows, or situations you see out in the community. This can make things more timely and relatable.
- Talk about saying no and how your kids can effectively deal with situations where they may feel pressured to drink. Building these resources gives them options when faced with challenging situations.
- Research answers together if they ask something you don’t know rather than making something up. This can help build trust and honesty.
- Connect with other parents to create a more united front and discourage alcohol use among children. Know your children’s friends and their parents so you have a better idea of who they are spending time with and the type of message being sent.
Creating a Positive Environment
In addition to talking to your child about the dangers of alcohol, create an environment that discourages drinking and promotes healthy activities. Get them involved in sports, clubs, and other activities that will build their self esteem and confidence. This will also provide more structure and routine to their days to prevent boredom and experimentation. Remind them that drugs and alcohol can interfere with their ability to improve their skills or to compete. Many children don’t want to disappoint or jeopardize something they have been working hard at.
Also make sure that you are educated about alcohol and alcoholism. This will help you to feel more confident in discussing it with your children and also to be more aware of potential issues. Early detection can allow you or loved ones to get help before drinking becomes more problematic.
Orange County drug and alcohol rehab center Chapters Capistrano offers customized treatment programs to meet your individual needs. Whether you are entering treatment for the first time or are looking for a seven- or 14-day detox program to help you get back on track with recovery, Chapters Capistrano can help. Contact us today at 949-371-4198 and set a positive example for your children while starting a new chapter in your life.