Prevent teen drinking by talking to your teen and by modeling behaviors you want them to emulate when temptations arise.
- Step 1: Get active in the community by petitioning the media to report on resources that help the public help prevent teen drinking. Support legal authorities enforcing drunk-driving laws and punishing retail establishments for sales to underage patrons.
- TIP: You can find a vast amount of research, surveys, services, and educational aids online, detailing risky behaviors, health problems, and accident statistics.
- Step 2: Stimulate your children and be involved in their lives. Your advice is necessary, but at some point it has to be accompanied by genuine loving interaction to build their self esteem.
- FACT: A 2007 report estimated that alcohol use contributes to 300 teen suicides a year.
- Step 3: Develop you teen's critical thinking by challenging the myths of substance abuse perpetuated by the media image of consequence-free behaviors. Never joke about people who drink or glorify your past experiences with charming anecdotes.
- Step 4: Strengthen family bonds by improving your own skills in positive reinforcement, listening, and communicating. Children need help with problem solving when peer pressure becomes an issue. Demonstrate consistent tough love in the home and set limits.
- Step 5: Be open about your family's history of alcohol or drug use, educating your children on the genetic component and the greater risk they are inheriting. Provide them with new research on brain damage from teenage drug and alcohol abuse.
- TIP: Be realistic -- most teens experiment at some point. Keep the lines of communication open so they don't feel alone.
- Step 6: Draw the line and disapprove of any alcohol, drugs, or tobacco until 21 or they leave home, even if you know they may fail once in a while. Don't worry about making them social lepers by refusing to host anything but alcohol-free parties at your home -- they'll live.
- Step 7: Monitor your children's supervision and positive adult role models. Campaign for those professionals to share developmentally appropriate information on addiction and teen drinking at school. Kids need to know the risk factors.