According to the U.S.Department of Health and Human Services, alcohol is the second most popular drug in the country. Many do not consider alcohol a drug, but it does affect behavior and alters our thinking processes. Teens can be faced with pressure to drink from their peers and may feel that it would be better to drink than to do other drugs. They may feel that they need to drink to fit in with the popular kids or even within a group of their own friends.
Peer pressure can begin as young as 10-11 years old and if the child is already feeling depressed or hurt over something that is happening in their lives, they will be more likely to drink than a teen or young person who is more self-confident and happy. Many young people do not see alcohol as a drug as they see parents or other adult role models who drink and so they assume that it must be okay. Children do not see the alcohol as a danger, but being that excessive alcohol consumption causes or is associated with over 5,000 deaths per year in people under the age of 21, it is definitely a danger to them.
Parents must be aware of what is going on with their child and know the signs of alcohol abuse. Parents must also be well aware of ways to help to keep the child or teen from being in a place where alcohol could be abused. Parents must be diligent in keeping an eye on a child or teen whose behavior has changed recently or one whose behavior changes when they are out with certain friends or attend certain events. Here are some of the best ways to do this.
TALK TO YOUR TEEN ABOUT ALCOHOL ABUSE
Granted as parents we generally know that we need to talk to our teen about these kinds of things, but do we do it? Many parents are afraid that their child or teen will be mad at them for talking about it or that the child will feel that they are being accused of drinking if they are not. It does not matter if they want their parent to talk about it or not, the subject needs to be discussed at home and the teen should know what the parent’s stand is on abusing alcohol. Make sure that the talk is open and honest and that you allow the child to speak as well. Be sure that they are well aware of the dangers of drinking.
PRAISE THE TEEN
Giving your teen plenty of praise when they are doing the correct things. Be sure to pay attention to things that they are doing and saying. Tell them you love them and show them some affection. I know teens do not like to have the parent show affection, but it is important. My kids have always gotten a kiss on the forehead before bed and I always make sure to tell them good night. and that I love them.
KNOW YOUR TEEN’S FRIENDS
This is very important for all parents. Be aware of who your child or teen is spending time with. Know where these kids live and who their parents are. Always ask for a phone number where they can be contacted. Require their friends to see you if your child or teen will be leaving in a car with them. Be sure that your child or teen know that they can always call home if they need too and that you will always give them a ride. Parents should know who their child or teen is talking to on line and on the phone as well. If you have a feeling that more is going on than what they are saying, check it out. Better to be safe than sorry later on!
HOLD YOUR TEEN ACCOUNTABLE
Be sure that your teen know that they are responsible for their own actions despite what everyone else might be doing. They are responsible to be home by curfew and that they are responsible for knowing what time it is. Be sure that they are aware that there will be consequences if they are late and hold to those consequences. Also be very sure that they understand that you will confront them if you feel that they are putting themselves in danger or abusing alcohol.
REQUIRE RESPONSIBILITY AT HOME
A child or teen who has responsibilities at home will hopefully make them more responsible when they are out as well. Children or teens who have responsibilities at home need to receive some sort of allowance, but they must learn from an early age that with that money comes responsibilities. Teens can pay their own car insurance and they can pay for their own gasoline. This teaches them the value of the money as well as the value of responsibility to themselves. Having responsibilities at home will also keep them busier which will keep them away from times where they might find the urge to drink.
Each of these tips might seem simple or silly to you as a parent, but they will help. If you find that your teen is abusing alcohol, get help immediately. There are many programs that parents can get their child into for help. There are programs in most if not all of the states of the United States and can be found by looking for them on an on line search or by looking at the phone book. One of the best around Indianapolis, Indiana is Fairbanks Hospital. Many hospitals and doctors can recommend the best in your state if you are willing to ask.
As a parent, it is your job to protect your teen and to do all you can to keep them safe. Keep talking and keep listening and take action when actions is necessary. Realize that there are teens out there who will try their best to entice your child to do something that they may know is wrong, but peer pressure can overpower your child’s own good judgment.