Underage drinking is a very real problem that many parents are facing in their homes. As our children get older, they want to go out and be independent. Unfortunately, they aren’t old enough to handle a lot of the responsibility that can come with some adult situations. Drinking is just one of the things that kids are doing these days without parents knowing. This can lead to driving while drunk and other unsafe or dangerous behavior. Luckily, there are some proven practices that parents can use to help prevent underage drinking.
Nurturing the Parent-Child Relationship
It’s really important that your child feels like they can talk to you about anything. Building trust with each other can help your child feel as though they can talk to you about their concerns about their friends, parties or bigger life issues. You can share with them some of the dangers of underage drinking. When they hear your real concerns, they will take them to heart. It’s a good idea not to yell or shout at your child about the issues when they are coming to you. Let them know that you’re approachable and can be trusted.
Set Clear Expectations
Your child needs to know what is expected of them. You need to set clear expectations that they can realistically achieve. According to recent statistics, 14.5 million Americans have received treatment for alcohol misuse—some of which are as young as twelve years old. You don’t want your child to become part of this statistic. Let them know there will be a time and a place for them to drink when they are twenty-one years old. Right now, there are other things to be focusing on. If they know you will have strong disapproval of something they have done, then they will think twice before doing it, especially if they already trust your values.
If your child is caught by you while they are drinking under the legal age, there should be repercussions for their actions. While it obviously won’t be as severe as if they were pulled over, the level of the punishment should match the seriousness of the offense. You can let your child know ahead of time that there will be a punishment handed out. This might include you taking away their access to the car. They may be cut off from any allowance money they are given. You may also take away their right to get together with friends. Being clear upfront is the best method so that kids know what to expect.
We want our children to have a good time, but drinking under the legal age of twenty-one is never a good idea. There are plenty of other things your child can do in order to have fun. It’s important they’re hanging around with the right crowd. If they’re not, they need to understand that this could have a long-term negative impact. Using these parenting strategies can help you to set your child on the right path.
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