Parents don’t like to think about their kids experimenting with alcohol, but the truth is that by the time kids reach high school, most of them will. Talking to your kids early, often, and truthfully about alcohol is the best way to protect them from the potentially dangerous consequences of drinking and to give them the tools they need to make smart decisions. If you are concerned that your child is abusing alcohol, talk to his or her pediatrician about steps you can take. This advice will help you get the conversation about alcohol started with your kids in a way that it will sink in.
Be a good example
Your kids watch everything you do closely, so set a good example by the way you use alcohol. Don’t reach for a drink at every social occasion, so kids understand that drinking isn’t necessary to have fun.
Living a healthy lifestyle that involves physical activity, healthy eating, and not drinking to excess will teach your kids that these are normal, smart decisions that you make and expect them to make, too.
Don’t wait to bring it up
It’s never too early to start talking about alcohol in an age-appropriate way. For young children, talking about how alcohol can make you feel sick can be a good lesson, while slightly older kids might be interested in hearing about the ways that alcohol affects the body.
When kids reach middle school and high school, they are likely to encounter kids who are experimenting with alcohol. Talk to them about peer pressure and their right to say no to things that they don’t want to do. Focus on the health and legal consequences of drinking for kids in their age groups.
Open the lines of communication
Be open to kids asking questions about alcohol at any age, and answer them truthfully and without judgment. Resist the urge to lecture. Kids who feel respected are more likely to come to you for advice.
Remind teens that they can call you if they find themselves in a risky situation, and that you will help them without asking questions.
Talk to your physician at Sunrise Children’s Hospital for more advice for helping your kids navigate topics like alcohol and drug use. Contact our children’s hospital in Las Vegas to learn more about all of our services or to request a referral to a physician by calling (702) 233-5437.