How Soon is Now? Talking to Kids about Alcohol!

The road to adulthood can be paved with more than one uncomfortable conversation. But don’t wait too long to bring up the subject of alcohol with your children. Even some children in elementary school are making decisions about whether to take a drink.

Children see people drinking and misusing alcohol everywhere; they are bombarded with ads on television and online. Plus, their friends might be giving them a lot of pressure to fit in and drink. Children might even see adults in their family abusing alcohol. And the pressure to drink starts earlier than you might think.

More than 7 percent of eighth graders, 16 percent of sophomores and 23 percent of seniors report recent binge drinking, which is defined as five or more drinks on the same occasion.alcohol talk

The good news is that it’s never too early or too late to influence your children. In fact, research has shown that kids who have conversations with their parents and learn a lot about the dangers of alcohol and drug use are 50 percent less likely to use alcohol and drugs than those who don’t have such conversations.

Research shows that kids of all ages are less apt to drink if they:
·     Enjoy a good relationship with their parents
·     Stay active in extracurricular activities
·     Understand the harmful health effects of alcohol abuse

Here are some tips to keep your kids out of trouble with alcohol:
·     Know where they are. Too much unstructured time can lead to experimentation with drinking and other risky behaviors.
·     Keep track of your children’s friends. It’ll be easier for kids to say no if they’re not surrounded by drinkers.
·     Set clear rules about alcohol use.

Teach your kids how to say no. Refusing to participate without losing friends is a skill that requires practice. Help your children by role-playing appropriate responses in different situations.
Help your kids learn to read into the glamorous portrayal of alcohol in the media. Be sure your children know the potential consequences of excessive drinking such as hangovers, unwanted or unsafe sex, weight gain, car accidents and liver damage.

For more information and resources for talking to kids about alcohol visit the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. 

Sources:Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Federal Trade Commission, National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. And many thanks to Blue Cross Blue Shield for sharing these tips!

About Holly Carter

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