Teen drinking is an issue — and if you think your teen is not doing it, the statistics hint otherwise. If you’re wondering how to talk to your child about drinking, we have some tips.
Here’s a staggering fact: In the U.S., more than 60% of teens have had at least one drink of alcohol. Teen drinking is an issue — and if you think your teen is not doing it, the statistics hint otherwise. If you’re wondering how to talk to your child about drinking, we have some tips.
According to an annual Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System survey conducted in 2019 by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 29.2% of respondents reported currently drinking alcohol. Fifteen percent of respondents reported drinking before age 13, and almost 14% are currently binge drinking. People ages 12 to 20 drink 11% of all alcohol consumed in the United States.
“Parents need to accept the fact that their teen may have experimented with drinking or has been exposed to it through their peers,” said Nikki Boyd, coordinator of health and wellness for Norton Children’s Prevention & Wellness. “As a parent, you should talk openly in an upfront and honest way, like all conversations you have with your children.”
Children learn how to manage alcohol from their parents, including how often and how much they drink.
“As much as we think our children are not paying attention to us as parents, they really are,” Nikki said. “Children are watching how frequently their parents drink, how alcohol impacts their parents’ mood as well as when a parent turns to alcohol.
“The way you, as a parent, manage alcohol can potentially direct your child’s behavior toward drinking.”
Norton Children’s Prevention & Wellness
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How to talk to your child about drinking
- Establish open communication. Encourage conversation and ask open-ended questions. Make it easy for you and your child to talk honestly with one another. Avoid questions that have a simple “yes” or “no” answer.
- Show you care. Make it a priority to regularly spend one-on-one time with your child. Even if your child doesn’t show it, your child needs to know he or she is a priority to you.
- Draw the line. There’s a fine line between being a parent and being a friend. But it’s a line you have to draw. Set realistic expectations for your child’s behavior. Establish appropriate consequences for breaking rules and consistently enforce them.
- Offer support and acceptance. Acknowledge your child’s efforts and accomplishments. Make every conversation a “win-win” experience. Avoid lecturing your child by showing how he or she is “wrong.” Show respect for your child’s viewpoint, and your child will be more likely to listen and respect yours.
- Control your emotions. If you hear something you don’t like, try not to respond with anger. Take a few deep breaths and acknowledge your feelings in a constructive way.
“Teens want to feel respected and valued, and that you trust them to make good choices,” Nikki said. “Communicate in a way that allows the teen to feel like they have a say in creating the rules or what constitutes acceptable behavior.”