As our children age into teenagers, they are exposed to many dangerous substances, including alcohol. Underage drinking can become a tempting idea for teenagers, leading to serious issues later on.
How can you openly talk to your teen about the dangers of underage drinking and staying safe while out with their friends?
Talking to your teens doesn’t have to be a big confrontation. Follow these tips to help you talk with your teenager about the dangers of underage drinking today.
What Are the Dangers of Underage Drinking?
There are many risks associated with underage drinking. Not only can it become addictive and lead to alcoholism later in life, but it can also cause:
- Behavioral and emotional problems
- Problems in school
- Issues with friends
- Risk of physical or sexual assault
- Serious health concerns
- Legal trouble
- Abuse of other dangerous substances
- Suicidal ideations
Keeping your child informed on the dangers of alcohol abuse and underage drinking is crucial for keeping them safe in the future.
It’s well known that adolescents respond to alcohol differently than adults, as their bodies have a lower tolerance for it. That makes teaching them early on important for their wellbeing.
Suspicions of Underage Drinking
Do you think your teen may already be drinking? If so, there are a few signs that can point towards underage drinking or alcohol addiction. These signs can include, but are not limited to:
- Loss of interest in hobbies and activities outside of school
- Poor performance in school
- Your teen appears drunk when they come home from school/hanging out with friends
- Your teen smells strongly of alcohol
- Severe memory problems or an inability to concentrate
- Sudden academic or behavioral problems
- Secretive behavior about their activities or friend groups
It’s important to note that these signs can also be indicators of mental health issues rather than substance abuse. Before jumping to any conclusions, make sure you talk directly with your teen or take them to a professional counselor or therapist.
The most important step you can take if you believe your teen may be drinking while underage is to listen and engage with them openly. Sometimes, the best help you can give is offering support in a time of need.
How to Talk to Your Teen
When starting a discussion on underage drinking with your teen, there are a few things you should keep in mind. Follow these tips to make the most out of your talk with your teen.
Keep the Conversation Open and Honest
Don’t let your conversation be one-sided- give your teen the chance to share their thoughts, opinions, and ideas with you while you talk. Let them ask you questions and answer them as honestly as you can. By keeping yourself open to what your child has to say, they are more likely to engage in the conversation and take what you have to say to heart.
Use Open-Ended Questions
Yes or no questions are not a good way to keep an engaging conversation with your teen. Try to only ask questions that will help move the conversation forward and keep your teen thinking.
For example, instead of asking whether or not your teen has ever considered drinking or if they’ve ever been asked to drink with friends, try something like “why do you think someone may want to start drinking?” or “can you give me an example of why underage drinking might be bad?” These types of questions will make your conversation more productive.
Actively Listen to Your Child
When having your conversation, use active listening techniques so that you can engage as much with them as they are with you. Try to repeat back their thoughts and feelings to them as they speak to feel heard and understood.
Consider the Future
Have you ever asked your teen what they want to be when they grow up? Mentioning how they want their future to look can help you illustrate exactly how underage drinking can affect their goals and plans.
Help your teen figure out what their boundaries are and what they want for themselves. Even asking what worries them about the future can help to mitigate their thoughts of drinking. Helping them plan ahead can reduce their anxiety and stress and make them less likely to turn to alcohol as a relief.
Give Them the Facts
Explain the potential dangers involved with underage drinking and how it can affect your teen—giving them as much information as you can help them to understand the dangers of underage drinking better. Make sure to talk about the long-term harm that can be caused by underage drinking as well as the immediate problems it can cause.
Sprinkling in your own experiences with alcohol may also help your child get a better understanding of its effects. Be honest about what you’ve experienced and keep an open conversation as you discuss these effects!
Offer Support and Love
As you and your teen discuss underage drinking, make sure to stress how much you care about them and that you will offer them support if and when they need it. Having someone they know they can turn to may help them steer away from alcohol and underage drinking.
Even if they do fall victim to underage drinking, by showing your support, you can keep them from getting into dangerous situations with the knowledge that they can always turn to you for help when things go wrong.
Keep Your Kids Safe
Knowing the dangers of underage drinking is only half the battle; keep this advice in mind when you decide its time to talk with your teen about underage drinking. Remember always to keep an open mind and listen to what your child has to say!
Are you having issues with your teen and underage drinking and don’t know how to help them?
Contact us for any assistance you may need for you or your loved one today. We can help individuals 18 years of age and older get past their addiction and move on to a brighter future.