For most teens, summer vacation is at time to relax, spend time with friends and enjoy the break from the school year. But with parents at work, and perhaps more lenient rules, like curfew, too many teens use their break to experiment with alcohol.
In fact, a recent survey by Caron Treatment Centers reveals that of Americans aged 18-40, 61% identified summer as the season teens are most likely to engage in underage drinking.
That’s why now is as an important time as ever to continue (or start!) the conversation with teens about underage drinking.
Parental influence is the most important factor in helping keep teens safe, and MADD’s Power of Parents program focuses on educating parents and caregivers about the dangers of underage drinking, and provides them the tools they need to talk with their kids about alcohol.
Here are seven tips for getting through to your teen:
- Communicate before a problem starts – Have important discussions now, before there’s blame, anger or punishment. Agree on a time to start talking together about the dangers of alcohol.
- Discuss rules and consequences – Explain how you expect your son or daughter to act, and why. Tell your teen plainly that you don’t want him or her drinking. Agree on consequences of broken rules.
- Show you care – Gently touch your teen on the arm or back to show affection. Tell your teen you love them and want them to be healthy and safe. Explain that’s why you need to talk together about the dangers of underage drinking.
- Pay attention – Even when life gets hectic, take time out to listen to your teen. Monitor where your teen is and what your teen is doing.
- Share family activities – Have dinner together at least three times a week.
- Give and get respect – When your teen talks to you, listen and reply respectfully. Insist that your teen treat you with respect, too.
- Enforce consequences consistently – If your teen breaks the rules, stay calm and enforce the consequences.
You can download our parent handbook for additional tips and tools to help you have this lifesaving conversation with your teens, as well as get the Power of You(th) booklet for your teen to learn about the impacts of drinking and tools to help them make good choices and resisting peer pressure.