Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Talking with Young Children about Alcohol

When playing the "blame game," fingers often point in many directions when dealing with the issue of underage drinking.

Research has found that children and even teenagers are mostly influenced by their peers and family—namely, parents and siblings—when making decisions about using alcohol. For example, researchers have learned that teens' drinking and substance use behavior was highly influenced by sibling behavior.

Also, teens that spend a lot of time around parents who drink are more likely to drink themselves. However, this same study showed that parents who set firm limits on underage drinking tend to have teens who are less likely to drink.

What does this mean for parents who want to educate their children about alcohol use? It's a good idea to start early by creating an environment where children feel comfortable about asking questions and discussing feelings.

Be realistic when talking about alcohol; exaggerating the dangers is not effective. Discuss the facts about alcohol use as well as your values. Know your teen's daily schedule and set clear limits on underage drinking.

Monitor who your teen becomes friends with and get to know their parents. Most teenage drinking occurs in someone's home, such as that of a peer.

Most important, examine your own behaviors about drinking and realize that your children will most likely adopt these behaviors.

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