WHEN IT COMES TO EDUCATING YOUR CHILDREN ABOUT THE DANGERS OF DRINKING, ONE CONVERSATION ISN’T LIKELY TO BE ENOUGH.
IF YOU WAIT until your children are teenagers before talking to them about alcohol, they may have already had their first drink. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, almost 12 percent of children between 12 and 17 years old report drinking alcohol during the previous month.
“Depending on your child’s maturity level, age 10 or 11 is a good time to start talking about alcohol,” says Marie Dachel- Hall, MA, LPC-IT, ICS, CSAC, Outpatient Substance Abuse Counselor at L.E. Phillips–Libertas Treatment Center, a service of HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital. “Start early for an open, honest, ongoing dialogue.”
Despite pop culture norms, sitting your children down
for a serious “talk” about alcohol may not be the best way to communicate about the dangers of teen drinking.
“When you start the conversation, keep it casual,”
Dachel-Hall says. “Children will be more open to discussing concerns or questions in a casual environment as opposed to a formal sit-down, which can be intimidating.”
If your children ask about your past experience with alcohol, be honest but don’t glamorize your stories. Ask your child’s friends’ parents their opinions about underage
alcohol use. You may not want your child spending the night at a friend’s house if supervised drinking is allowed.
If you suspect your child may be addicted to drugs or alcohol, call L.E. Phillips–Libertas Treatment Center at 715.723.558