Make a Difference: Talk to Your Child About Alcohol
- Kids who drink are more likely to be victims of violent crime, to be involved in alcohol-related traffic crashes, and to have serious school-related problems.
- You have more influence on your child’s values and decisions about drinking before he or she begins to use alcohol.
- Parents can have a major impact on their children’s drinking, especially during the preteen and early teen years.
With so many drugs available to young people these days, you may wonder, "Why develop a booklet about helping kids avoid alcohol?" Alcohol is a drug, as surely as cocaine and marijuana are. It’s also illegal to drink under the age of 21. it’s dangerous. Kids who drink are more likely to:
- Be victims of violent crime.
- Have serious problems in school.
- Be involved in drinking-related traffic crashes.
This guide is geared to parents and guardians of young people ages 10 to 14. Keep in mind that the suggestions on the following pages are just that—suggestions. Trust your instincts. Choose ideas you are comfortable with, and use your own style in carrying out the approaches you find useful. Your child looks to you for guidance and support in making life decisions—including the decision not to use alcohol.
"But my child isn’t drinking yet," you may think. "Isn’t it a little early to be concerned about drinking?" Not at all. This is the age when some children begin experimenting with alcohol. Even if your child is not yet drinking alcohol, he or she may be receiving pressure to drink. Act now. Keeping quiet about how you feel about your child’s alcohol use may give him or her the impression that alcohol use is OK for kids.
It’s not easy. As children approach adolescence, friends exert a lot of influence. Fitting in is a chief priority for teens, and parents often feel shoved aside. Kids will listen, however. Study after study shows that even during the teen years, parents have enormous influence on their children’s behavior.
The bottom line is that most young teens don't yet drink. And parents' disapproval of youthful alcohol use is the key reason children choose not to drink. So make no mistake: You can make a difference.
(Note: This booklet uses a variety of terms to refer to young people ages 10 to 14, including youngsters, children, kids, and young teens.)
Reprinted with the permission of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
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