As the disastrous “Just Say No” national campaign has proved, substance abuse education has a long way to go. For many parents, drugs and alcohol leave them feeling confused and frightened for their kids, and while the parents do not act, the kids are getting information from the world around them.
How can you as a parent create a dialog between you and your own child so that you can discuss drinking and why they should not do it?
Some parents believe that kids should not be exposed to the dangers of alcohol until they are a little older and can understand what it all means. While this is certainly an understandable view, it is also important to remember that this can leave a child open to all sorts of misinformation and dangerous opportunities. Remember that a discussion about drinking can be quite simple when the child is young, and you can add new information as the child gets older.
Try a Demonstration
Have your child spin around in a circle as fast as they can. Have them spin until they can barely stand up, and then ask them to do simple things like write their name, to go pour a glass of water or to try to walk in a straight line. Many kids do not understand how alcohol can affect the way their brains work, and this is one way to show them.
Talk About Effects
Alcohol is a type of substance that has many effects on your body, especially if it is abused. Talk about addiction and what it is, and make sure that you give your child a clear idea of what alcohol does to your body, from short term nausea and lack of perception to long term organ failure in a worst case scenario. Remind your child that while there are solutions like outpatient rehab and other options it is far better to avoid needing these things at all.
Talk About Consequences
Alcohol consumption drastically raises the risk for things like assault and car accidents. One of the serious issues regarding alcohol consumption, especially consumption that is over the top and uncontrolled is that it can make you feel as if there are no consequences and that what you are doing right now does not matter. However, as even a small child can understand, there are consequences for everything, and some of the worst ones that come from alcohol abuse can last the rest of your life.
Open Door Policy
Remind your child that no matter what they do, you will be there to help them. For example, if your child finds themselves at a party where drinking is happening, they should call you for a ride. The same goes if they get drunk. While there will be talks later on, you as the parent will not leave them to put themselves in danger. So much alcohol abuse is kept a secret from one person or another, and an open door policy allows you to prevent that path in your child. Remember that teen drinking can begin quite early, so have these talks.
A little bit of time and effort can help you prevent something terrible, so teach your child about the dangers of drinking.