How to talk to your teen
Itâ€™s alarming to think that many kids in western Nebraska have their first drink of alcohol as young as age 13, but itâ€™s true. The best way to prevent it from happening to your child is to be armed with good information and to keep an open dialogue going with your child about your thoughts, wishes and values, as they pertain to drug and alcohol use.
Statistics show that when parents talk to their children about alcohol or drugs, children are 42% less likely to try them.
Talking to your teen
- Engage in active listening with your child. Ask about their life often and listen without interruption.
- Ask open ended questions that do not lead to simple yes or no answers.
- Listen to your childâ€™s viewpoint and seek to understand it.
- Be measured in your reaction to what you might hear. Control your emotions and donâ€™t respond with anger.
- Try not to lecture or do all the talking. Have a discussion with your teen. Keep calm, making sure to hear what they are saying to you. Take a moment to collect your thoughts before you respond.
Frequent and often discussions
One conversation wonâ€™t cut it. Information about underage drinking and alcohol use is important enough to repeat again and again. Not only should you initiate conversations with your child about drugs and alcohol, but you should answer their questions as frequently as they ask them.
Kids talk to their friends for hours every day in-person or on-line, influencing each other and feeding each other all kinds of information. How much do your kids hear from you?
Answering the toughest question - Did you drink when you were underage?
If you are a parent who didnâ€™t try alcohol before you were 21, congratulations! This conversation should be easier for you.
However, even if you are a parent who used before you were of-age, there are a couple of effective ways to handle the â€śwhy was it okay for you to drink and not for meâ€ť question.
If you are not comfortable sharing your history as it relates to drug and alcohol use, then donâ€™t. Refocus your child on the importance of not using drugs and alcohol. Tell your child that you are not comfortable sharing that kind of information with them.
The other approach is to admit you drank while underage, sharing some of the negative, embarrassing or painful memories with them. Make sure they know your regrets and appreciation for how much more we know now about the dangers and consequences of drug and alcohol use. Remember, we know now much more now than we did then about how alcohol affects the brain and body.
How you can help
*Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration, Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, Family Guide.
- Be clear with your child about your views on alcohol use. Make sure they know exactly how you feel.
- Instill confidence in your child. Praise them often and let them know how proud you are of them when they do good things. The more confident your child is, the more likely he or she will be to resist peer pressure.
- Encourage your child to join extra-curricular activities. When their day is not filled with productive, structured activities, your teen is more likely to experiment with drugs and alcohol.
- Teach your kids to say no. Talk to them about the best ways to get out of uncomfortable drug and alcohol-related situations. Role play with them.
- Set firm but fair rules. Ask when they are going out, who they will be with, what they will be doing and which adult will be supervising.
- Set fair and reasonable consequences for breaking the rules and consistently enforce them.
How to talk to your teen about alcohol
Make a difference; talk to your child about alcohol
Time to talk to your teen about alcohol
Talking to your kids about alcohol and drugs
Talk to your kids about alcohol
Statistics you should know
How to talk to your teen
Signs that your teen is using
Social hosting laws
Underage drinking laws
Risks of underage drinking
Social Host Law
Contributing to a Minor Law