Drinking alcohol with the expressed purpose of getting “messed up”? Believe it or not, this is an activity practiced mostly by kids. Watch this brief video…
What can a parent do?
1. Get the book, How Your Teen Can Grow a Smarter Brain. Then read Chapter 9. Inform your child about the crucial brain development that’s going on during adolescence. Encourage activities that develop critical thinking. The more thinking skills your child develops, the easier it will be to foresee consequences, control impulses and use good judgment.
2. In a calm, non-threatening, supportive way discuss how drinking alcohol or using drugs can disrupt normal brain development, causing limited intellectual capacity as an adult – for life. Kids who think about the consequences are less likely to drink alcohol to excess. See my posts about teen drinking and teen use of marijuana.
3. Set a good example. If you must drink in their presence, do so responsibly – in other words not as a habit and never to excess. And never use illegal drugs. If they see you do it, they’ll conclude it’s fine for them.
4. Help your child earn strong self-esteem by supporting their involvement in challenging activities and affirming them when they do things well. It takes strong self-esteem to resist peer pressure.
5. Give them an “out” – scripted things they can say to stand up to peer pressure and opt out with grace.
6. Build your parent-child communication skills, e.g. asking questions to make them think, listening, feedback, dialogue and conflict resolution, so you can foster a sharing relationship that will let you talk proactively about these issues.
7. Encourage and support involvement in sports or physical fitness. It’s hard to succeed as an athlete while abusing substances.
8. Don’t be permissive. Get a contract or agreement with a child. Set boundaries related to drinking and other behavior, such as an appropriate curfew with consistent, enforced consequences. When you discover their drinking, don’t turn a blind eye. Call them out. Tell them it’s not what you expect of them. Enforce consequences for violations and remind them of the consequences to their future life. Have the child earn trust and freedom by showing responsibility and accountability.
9. Don’t dominate or be controlling, but get to know your teen’s friends and their parents. Always know where your teen is, and check. Stay connected by cell phone, or have a destination number.
10. If your child becomes a problem drinker, the game changes. It’s time to seek professional help, just as an adult with the same problem would.
Protecting your teen’s brain will help your child develop vital thinking skills. More about this in my new book: How Your Teen Can Grow a Smarter Brain.
Also, you can download 4 FREE guides, including “The No. 1 Way to Nurture the Bond with Your Teen.”