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