The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveal that nearly half of all teens drink alcohol and well over half admit to binge drinking. Binge drinking is defined as consuming five or more drinks consecutively. This is extremely dangerous for more reasons than just the toll it takes on the body. It also is the leading reason that teens engage in risky behaviors such as unsafe sex and acts of violence.
The best plan for parents is to make every effort to prevent teenage binge drinking before it starts. Remember, Mom and Dad, contrary to what you may have been told, you are your child’s greatest influence, even over their friends and media exploitation. You do have the power to prevent teenage binge drinking.
Parents have to make sure that teens fully understand what is expected from them when drugs or alcohol confront them. Take every opportunity to talk to your teen about the various substances that make up their landscape. You cannot be too clear on how situations involving drugs should be handled. Go over every possible situation that can occur and talk them through it. Help them control how they handle it when you are not around. Make sure they know it is ok to say no and direct them on how to do so. Role playing is a good way to get your point across by acting out different scenarios that could arise.
Monitor Teen Activity
Don’t leave the final decision to your teen about what they do, where they go, and who they hang with. Once they have a set group of friends that they are attached to, it will be too hard to separate them, so establish this early on. Involve them into leisure activities that are positive and substance free. Always know where they are, who they are with, what time they are coming home, and what they are doing. Try to fill the gaps, so there is very little idle time for your teen. Basically, you will plant your child in the right environment early enough to make sure they adjust, while they are young with positive people.
Make sure that your teens do not have easy access to alcohol. If you don’t want them to engage in drinking, then make sure they are not around alcohol at home. Don’t drink around your teens. This just glamorizes it in their eyes. If you have guests over or attend a function where you are drinking and having a good time, the association is made that drinking is fun and harmless. This sends mixed messages.
Educate, Educate, Educate
Teens should know everything there is to know about the dangers of drinking and binge drinking. You are fighting a war here to save your teen from the harms of binge drinking, so anything goes. Do whatever it takes to be effective and get that message across. Just sitting your teen down and throwing some facts at them will render useless results most times.
You must make an impact on their future choices by leaving a vivid and clear picture of how making the wrong choices will affect their lives. Pictures speak louder than words so use newscasts, brochures, even take them to a funeral or the morgue of someone that died because of alcohol to create a relationship that they will not soon forget.
Understand the Red Flags
Once you have set forth every possible prevention measure to ensure that your teen does not begin drinking alcohol, you must sit back and see if your efforts have been embraced. You will know by educating yourself on how to spot signs that your teen is abusing alcohol. Leave no stone unturned. Don’t leave smelling it on them your primary piece of evidence. Kids are much smarter than that today.
Look for changes in your teen’s appearance, drops in school grades, changes in appetite and sleep patterns, loss of interest in things they used to enjoy, a rebellious attitude, a change in who they hang out with, always seeking money with little or no explanation of how it was spent, and an unaccountability of where time is spent. These are the best efforts that you, as a parent, can put forward in preventing teenage binge drinking.
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