Alcohol is the substance of choice for many underage children. It is estimated that one third of youth begin to drink before the age of 13. Research also shows that youth that start consuming alcohol before the age of 15 are 5 times more likely to become alcohol dependent/abusers in the future. Alcohol is responsible for over 1,700 deaths in college students, over 100,000 date rape incidents, over 700,000 assaults, etc.
Alcohol is very easy to access and it is very cheap to buy.
Here are some tips for parents to be pro-active with their children and prevent future alcohol related catastrophes:
- Openly talk to your son or daughter about alcohol and other substances: Find out what their thoughts about alcohol are, if they have tried alcohol, have they been offered alcohol, etc.
- Positive peers: Get to know your youth’s peers and activities that they engage in.
- Pro-social activities for the youth: Engaging in extra curricular activities and/or sports that the youth may find fun will increase the possibilities of relating with positive peers and may decrease boredom and large periods of time without doing something.
- Know where your son/daughter are and what they are doing: Knowing what time they are expected to be home and where they are will help the youth be more mindful that they are being monitored and will also give the parent a warning sign if the youth is not following through with those expectations and engage in a parent-youth conversation.
- Peer pressure: Go over scenarios that your son/daughter may encounter with where there will be pressures to engage in activities they do not wish to engage in. Provide the youth with coping skills and options that the youth can implement to not succumb to peer pressure (ex: Ways to say no, feeling okay with leaving the situation, identifying emotional manipulation, etc.).
- Positive role models: The best tool for children are positive role models in the home. The parent’s attitude and approach to alcohol will be an important factor for the youth.
By implementing these steps the youth will learn that they have a positive and constructive support at home. The youth will also be more mindful of his/her choices and its consequences. The youth will have accurate information about alcohol use and will be better prepared to address peer pressure.
Authored by Oscar Gomezese, a Licensed Marriage and Therapist with the Coral Gables Counseling Center. Oscar works with individuals, couples and families to help them live a successful life. You can contact Oscar for an appointment at 305-445-0477 or Oscar@coralgablescounseling.com