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Published on March 17, 2015

How to Handle the Alcohol Discussion

March 17, 2015

teenagers smiling for a photoBetween prom night, graduation parties and summer get-togethers, many teens face situations in which they are surrounded by alcohol during the spring and summer months. Is your teen ready for the pressure?

It’s no secret that many adolescents try alcohol well before the legal drinking age of 21. While this experimentation may come in the form of one or two sips, some teens drink an average of five drinks or more during parties at which alcohol is present, according to the National Institutes of Health. Preparing your teen for the situations she may face at parties and sharing your own beliefs about drugs and alcohol can help her stay on the right track.

Dealing With Peer Pressure

Between the ages of 8 and 11, kids begin paying more attention to what their peers think, and their need for approval only grows during the teen years. Many teens try alcohol simply because they are unable to say no to friends.

If you don’t believe your teen listens to or respects your opinions, you should know that parents play a large role in preventing peer pressure at all ages. Forming the groundwork for independent thinking should start as early as possible. According to the Nemours Foundation, something as simple as letting your preschooler choose her outfit can begin instilling the confidence to say no. As your child grows into an adolescent, find similar ways to show her you trust her judgment. When your teen feels confident, she is less likely to be swayed by others’ opinions.

In addition to boosting self-esteem, have a frank talk about alcohol during your child’s preteen years. Be nonconfrontational—establish consequences for underage drinking, but focus mainly on how alcohol can affect her life and health. Also, before your teen heads out for the night, make sure she is well-versed on safety basics, such as never accepting a drink from a stranger and not letting a friend who’s been drinking get behind the wheel.

Teenage Angst or Something More?

Adolescence is a time for exploration, which often includes pushing boundaries. It’s normal for your teen to be a little moody or even standoffish at times. But sudden changes in personality and interests can indicate a problem with drugs or alcohol. If your teen is using alcohol, he may:

  • Experience a sudden disinterest in sports or other extracurricular activities
  • Have difficulty remembering appointments and conversations
  • Have trouble in school, as evidenced by dropping grades
  • Ignore old friends in favor of spending large amounts of time with kids you haven’t met
  • Keep secrets or lie frequently
  • Skip class
  • Slur his speech or have red, glassy eyes
  • Sneak out on school nights or weekends

If you suspect your teen is using or abusing alcohol, talk with a doctor or counselor who can help address his drinking habit. 


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