How to Teach Your Teenager to Deal with Al­co­hol in a Re­spon­si­ble Way

Teen drink­ing is a con­cern for many par­ents. Learn some ways on dis­cussing un­der­age drink­ing with your child and how to set ground rules

The Playa Times Riviera Maya's English Newspaper - - Health - BY ROSAN OUWERKERK

Brain re­search shows that al­co­hol un­til the 24th year may cause dam­age to the brains. Prefer­ably chil­dren un­der the age of 18 don’t drink and then start only on spe­cial oc­ca­sions. Ado­les­cents nev­er­the­less of­ten try al­co­hol. Pro­hi­bi­tion is, un­for­tu­nately, not al­ways ef­fec­tive over the age of 16: it can just lead to drink­ing se­cretly, which, of course, is highly un­de­sir­able. In this ar­ti­cle, I will dis­cuss how par­ents can get a grip on their teenagers drink­ing be­hav­ior if they are oc­cu­pied with al­co­hol.

Ob­vi­ously be­ing in­volved in a teenager’s life as a par­ent is cru­cial; show in­ter­est in what he (or she) is do­ing and with whom. Try to have a con­ver­sa­tion about al­co­hol, when the mo­ment is right. Chil­dren will open up more if par­ents re­act in a pos­i­tive way.

But it is nec­es­sary as well to set clear rules about how much and how of­ten your child can drink al­co­hol, at what time he should be home and the way he comes home when he goes out. Of course, there need to be con­se­quences if he is break­ing the rules.

I mostly ad­vise par­ents to dis­cuss the rules with par­ents of their child’s friends. Of­ten it turns out that other par­ents strug­gle with the same things, and it can be sup­port­ive to ex­change in­for­ma­tion. It also pre­vents your child from try­ing to con­vince you that his friends have fewer rules.

Even though ado­les­cents might re­sist the rules, this doesn’t mean that they dis­re­gard them com­pletely. It even can be con­ve­nient to hide be­hind “their strict par­ents”, even though they won’t ad­mit it easily.

Also en­cour­age other ways of leisure, such as sports and arts. In­volve­ment in ac­tiv­i­ties en­sures that en­ter­tain­ment doesn’t al­ways go along with al­co­hol.

If your child is im­pul­sive, thrill-seek­ing, sen­si­tive, anx­ious or in­se­cure, he may be more vul­ner­a­ble to al­co­hol and find it dif­fi­cult to re­sist. Be hon­est and open about your con­cerns and talk to him. He will un­der­stand your in­volve­ment bet­ter if you ex­plain your wor­ries that he will have dif­fi­cul­ties to han­dle al­co­hol in a safe and healthy way.

When ado­les­cents have prob­lems reg­u­lat­ing their drink­ing be­hav­ior and rules don’t make any dif­fer­ence, it is im­por­tant to get pro­fes­sional help.

Tips on dis­cussing al­co­hol with your teen:

Rosan Ouwerkerk is a Dutch reg­is­tered psy­chother­a­pist and she runs a pri­vate prac­tice in Playa del Car­men. If you think her help is re­quired, you can con­tact her: rosan.

ouwerkerk@gmail.com

When talk­ing about al­co­hol, teens will open up more if par­ents re­act a pos­i­tive way / Photo: Getty Im­ages

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