Alcohol abuse among teenagers is indeed a pressing issue, requiring more than what is unfortunately proving to be a futile legislation that makes the purchase and consumption of alcohol for anyone under the age of 21 illegal. If the law and alcohol education programs promoting abstinence have failed to keep your kid away from alcohol, then know that you are the last hope for their wellbeing. Breaking their drinking habit may prove to be an overwhelming task, but it sure can be accomplished if you’re completely committed to the cause.
The power of parent-child talk
Contrary to what you and many others like you may believe, teens do listen to their parents even if they don’t always act accordingly. Sit down with your child and talk to them about underage drinking. Encourage them to express themselves and reveal why they’ve developed the habit. As they speak, make sure you control your emotions even when they say something you disapprove of. You need to reach the root of the problem and that’s only possible if your teen shares it themselves.
Highlight the harmful effects of underage drinking
Your teen may be indulging in underage drinking because they are oblivious to its harmful effects. Discuss, if you haven’t done so already the underage drinking facts with them, underscoring issues such as unusual brain activity, clouded judgment, slow reflexes, weak comprehension, etc. Also explain to them how the aforementioned effects leave them susceptible to a wide array of threats such as road accident, violent crime, rape, etc.
Dispel myths surrounding alcohol
You may have often seen ads that glorify drinking, projecting alcohol as some sort of a magic portion that can give you confidence and improve your social life. Chances are your teen has seen them too. You need to explain to them how ads are exaggerating and even distorting the reality. Also point out to them how commercials completely ignore the damage alcohol causes to the brain and the liver.
Encourage healthy relationships
If you discover your teen’s social circle to be the culprit for their drinking habit, try pulling him/her out of it. Encourage them to change their friends by making them see how the people they are currently hanging out with are having a bad influence on them. Try creating new opportunities for them to meet new and responsible kids.
Keep an eye on your teen
Even if your teen agrees to give up drinking, don’t take their word for it. Instead, keep an eye on their activities, the kids they are hanging out with, and the places they are visiting to ascertain that they are staying true to their word. Additionally, encourage them to remain busy by indulging in harmless and yet enjoyable activities, as that’d keep their mind from drifting towards drinking. Monitoring your kids from an early age can help you keep them away from alcohol right from the get-go.
Lead by example
It is extremely important that you don’t send mixed messages to your kid, as that would leave them confused. Make it a point to never drink or even talk about alcohol in front of them, unless of course you’re lecturing them on its harmful effects. Don’t expect them to understand why it’s perfectly fine for you to drink but not for them. Also try keeping any alcohol that you have at home out of their sight.
Once your teen develops the habit of drinking, you’re bound to have a hard time breaking it. However, keep in mind that it’s not impossible to pull them out of it. Just be patient and hold on to your commitment firmly. You’d be surprised to see what the love and commitment of a parent can accomplish.