We were all teenagers once, and therefore we know that there will inevitably come a time when your teenager is introduced to alcohol. For many parents, the choice to make that introduction themselves is one that allows them to feel in control over how much and what sort of alcohol their teen will consume for the first time.
On the other hand, this exposure may give the impression that teenage drinking is okay. This is why it is beyond important to speak with your teenager about drinking before their first introduction is made.
At Fire Mountain, we meet teenagers all the time who have already begun to drink alcohol at ages as young as 13 and 14. In order to prevent this from being your kiddo, we would suggest you take the tips below.
You don’t ever want to enter a serious conversation like this one without having some sort of plan. First, you’re going to want to think about what sort of things you need to say. This means knowing the topics you want to cover before you ever sit down with your son or daughter. You should also have a plan for how you are going to handle the situation is your teenager does not handle the talk well and tries to argue or leave.
Be open and honest
Much of the time, teens don’t get enough credit for how perceptive they can be. The best way to think about this is to imagine that there is a lie detector on the table in front of you and your child and he/she is able to see whether what you are saying is the truth or a lie throughout the entire conversation. If your kid asks you a question and you do not feel comfortable answering it, simply respond by saying exactly that. There is far more weakness in lying to your kid than there is in just admitting that you don’t have the answer they are currently looking to find.
Turn it into a conversation and not a lecture
Many parents approach the teen drinking talk from the wrong perspective. This should be a calm and honest conversation that reiterates to your child the seriousness of drinking while they are underage. Not to mention, we all know how tempting it is to do the exact opposite of what your parents are telling you when you are a teenager. Coming from a place of concern and love, rather than anger, will render much better results.
Make sure to place an emphasis on the risks
Your teen may not understand what the big deal is about them drinking, which is why placing an emphasis on the risks that come with alcohol is so imperative. Make sure that you research facts and share them with your teen, giving him/her a better idea of the sort of things that happen to people their age who drink.
While teenagers like to think they are extremely informed about nearly everything, the truth is that there are myths out there about alcohol that you need to debunk. For instance, your teen may think that drinking is just a fun way to pass the time or that they can make friends through participating in social drinking. The reality of both of these is that alcohol can, more often than not, lead to negative things and situations when it is not consumed in a responsible manner.
Mention peer pressure
As mentioned above, many teens think that drinking can lead to them having more friends. Be sure to tell your teen that not fitting in is just a better reason to remove themselves from situations where alcohol is present. While the pressure to be part of a group can be extreme, there are plenty of ways to combat it. Come up with a plan with your teen so that if they find themselves in a situation where they are being asked to drink, they are able to remove themselves quickly and safely.
We would suggest a safe word that your teen texts you when they are in a situation like this. When you receive the safe word, you should call your teen, demanding them to come home for one reason or another. Sure, you may come off as the uncool parent but your teen won’t have to be the victim of any teasing for not wanting to drink.
Let your teen know he/she can be open with you
Once your kid became a teenager, there was a level at which your relationship with one another shifted. After all, your son or daughter is getting closer and closer to becoming an adult. Reiterate to your teen over and over again that they are absolutely welcome to be honest and open with you. Make sure you make it clear that no matter what they ever tell you that you will not judge them and that you will continue to love them unconditionally.
Getting upset is only going to lead to a conversation that is not beneficial for either party. Make sure that you remain calm throughout and that you do not yell or threaten to punish him or her.
Tell your teen about how you are feeling
Often it is easy for teenagers to forget that you were once their age. It is also often easy for them to think you are trying to stifle their freedom rather than just express concern. Make sure to tell your teen how you are feeling and more importantly, why you are feeling that way.
Set clear expectations
Make sure that you absolutely set rules and expectations. If you have followed all the tips above, your teen is likely to be receptive to the boundaries you have set for them and therefore, make good choices where alcohol is concerned in the future.
Need Help Tackling This Touchy Topic?
If your teen is already drinking or you feel as though you simply are not getting through to them, it’s time to get help from a team who has handled this situation many times before. Fire Mountain Programs is happy to help you in your mission to dissuade your teenagers from underage drinking. If you would like assistance, reach out to us today and find out how we can assist you.