Statistically speaking, most young teens don’t yet drink, and parents’ disapproval of underage drinking is the key reason most young teens give for refusing to drink. Because parents can make a difference in preventing alcohol abuse among young people, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) has developed Make a Difference: Talk to Your Child About Alcohol — a free, downloadable brochure with helpful tips for talking to young people about the dangers of alcohol and alcoholism.
According to the agency, these difficult parent-teen discussions are important because:
- “Alcohol-related traffic crashes are a major cause of death among teens. Alcohol use is also linked with youthful deaths by drowning, suicide and homicide.
- Teens who use alcohol are more likely to become sexually active at earlier ages, to have sexual intercourse more often, and to have unprotected sex than teen who do not drink.
- Young people who drink are more likely than others to be victims of violent crime, including rape, aggravated assault, and robbery.
- Teens who drink are more likely to have problems with school work and school conduct.
- An individual who begins drinking as a young teen is four times more likely to develop alcohol dependence than someone who waits until adulthood to use alcohol.”
They also remind parents that developing open, trusted patterns of communication with your teen is an essential part of helping him or her avoid alcohol use, and offer the following tips for parents for more successful communication:
- “Encourage conversation. Encourage your child to talk about whatever interests him or her. Listen without interruption and give your child a chance to teach you something new. Your active listening to your child’s enthusiasms paves the way for conversations about topics that concern you.
- Ask open-ended questions. Encourage your teen to tell you how he or she thinks or feels about the issue you’re discussing. Avoid questions that have simple “yes” or “no” answers.
- Control your emotions. If you hear something you don’t like, try not to respond with anger. Instead, take a few deep breaths and acknowledge your feelings in a constructive way.
- Make every conversation a win-win experience. Don’t lecture or try to “score points” on your teen by showing how he or she is wrong. If you show respect for your child’s viewpoint, he or she will be more likely to listen to and respect yours.”
Previously on the D.C. Metro Area Personal Injury Law Blog, we have posted articles related to:
- Beach Week alternatives to alcohol for teens
- Virginia’s Social Host liability laws for parents of teen party-goers
- Safety tips for teen drivers and their parents
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