Show your child there’s no wrong time to talk. Checking in and communicating is a way to show you care about their health and love them.
Build your child’s skills for refusing a drink if offered. It takes time. Take time to talk often instead of saving it all up.
Having a plan and knowing what to say in any situation can ease anxiety. Spend time going over a plan before it even has a chance to happen.
Not drinking alcohol underage is part of a bigger picture of healthy child development.
Parents show love to children in many ways. Building up their confidence and skills to say no to underage drinking is important in teaching them to advocate for themselves.
Funded in whole or in part by the Illinois Department of Human Services, Division of Substance Use Prevention and Recovery through a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration.
The Alcohol & Mental Health Connection
UNDERAGE alcohol use is tied to more than academic and social problems for youth. Teens may turn to alcohol to help them manage difficult feelings or high stress levels. However, adolescent brains are still developing, and drinking alcohol underage can quickly have problematic results.
Simply put, alcohol use is riskier for teens. When adults drink, they tend to become more subdued and slower, but it’s quite the opposite in adolescents. Teens can become energetic and then engage in more risky behavior. Behaviors that come as a result of poor-decision making, that they may not have otherwise engaged in without alcohol.
Teens with depression, anxiety, or ADHD are at particular risk. Youth struggling with depression can see an increase in suicidal thoughts and youth living with ADHD can increase impulsive behaviors because of drinking alcohol.
Take time to talk with your children about not drinking alcohol underage and the consequences in your home if they are caught. Their mental health depends on it.
There is more research about youth and alcohol than when you were a teen. We know that alcohol is the number one substance used by youth.
Here are other things we now know:
We know that drinking as a teen means a higher risk for alcohol use disorder later in life.
We know drinking alcohol underage can change the actual structure of your teen's brain causing cognitive problems.
We know underage alcohol use can cause your teen to make risky choices they would not have otherwise leaving a bad mark on their future plans.
Alcohol can cause damage to the brain, which is still developing into our mid-20s! Underage drinking can leave effects long after the alcohol leaves a child's body. When we know better, we can do better.
Sources: niaa.nih.gov, monitoringthefuture.org Funded in whole or in part by the Illinois Department of Human Services, Division of Substance Use Prevention and Recovery through a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration.
HAVING A "TALK WITH A CHILD CAN SEEM LIKE A BIG TASK"
That’s why it’s important to talk with them about not using alcohol underage before it becomes a big event.
Try not to make the topic bigger in your mind than it is, whether you plan on a one on-one conversation or a family discussion. No way is wrong.
Your child should know you do not approve of them drinking alcohol underage and if they did drink, they would likely be caught. Setting rules for your family is just one way you take care of them every day.
Rules to think about:
• No drinking alcohol until age 21.
• Do not stay at teen parties where alcohol is present.
• When they arrive home from being out with friends, let them know you want a
hug and hello before they head to their rooms.
• Older siblings do not encourage younger ones to drink and do not provide alcohol to anyone – including family.
• Do not ride in a car with a driver (of any age!) who has been drinking.