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UT: Have you talked to your kids about the dangers of underage drinking?

UT: Have you talked to your kids about the dangers of underage drinking?

By Nicea DeGering, Chelsea Perkins
December 29, 2021

(ABC4 Utah) Rob Timmerman with Parents Empowered joined us ahead of New Years Celebrations to talk about some important conversations we should be having with our kids.

Of course anytime is good time to talk to your kids about staying sage and healthy, However, we know with New Year’s Eve the availability of alcohol increases. With all the New Year’s festivities, alcohol is often more present in the home and at social gatherings. Parents Empowered, urges parents to be sure to keep alcohol that’s in your home out of kids’ reach and be sure to monitor them during social gatherings where alcohol is present.

They also want to share the message with parents to talk to their kids about the harms of underage drinking this New Year’s season. Utah’s youth have self-reported that the #1 influence in their life is their parents and the main reason they choose not to drink is parental disapproval. We all know that parents trump peer pressure, but we also know that if kids are unsupervised where alcohol is present, they’re more likely to begin drinking.

A few additional suggestions that Rob has regarding New Years are that you should get to know your kid’s friends and their parents and then also work with other parents to monitor what your kids are doing and keep them healthy and safe. Remind kids that A healthy brain is crucial to a child’s success in life.

Research shows that alcohol affects a child’s brain differently than an adult’s. An adolescent brain is going through rapid and dramatic changes through their mid-20’s. Alcohol can impair a child’s brain development. Underage alcohol use can harm areas of the brain associated with decision-making, memory, learning and impulse control. Young, still-developing brains can be more vulnerable to addiction.

This New Year’s, we encourage parents to have a continuing conversation with their kids about the harms of alcohol to their developing brain. Communicate your strong disapproval of underage drinking to keep kids’ brains healthy.

There are things parents can do to prevent underage drinking this New Year’s Eve:

  • Implement these proven prevention skills, Bonding, Boundaries and Monitoring:
    • Bonding means spending time with your child, doing things they enjoy.
      • Try to spend 10-15 minutes per day with your child, in their world, doing and talking about things they’re interested in, to help develop a strong relationship.
      • Then when you need to talk to your child about setting rules to protect their health and safety, they’ll be more likely to listen.
      • Studies show children are less likely to drink when their parents are involved in their lives and when they feel close to their parents.
    • Boundaries means setting clear rules and expectations about not drinking before age 21. Unclear rules and permissive attitudes leave kids vulnerable to underage drinking.
  • Have an ongoing conversation with your child, before they’re faced with the decision to drink underage. It’s not a “one-and-done” conversation.
  • Talk with your child about the risks associated with underage drinking and the harms to their developing brain.
    • Rules might include leaving parties where alcohol is served and not riding in a car with a driver who’s been drinking.
    • Encourage your child to call or text you to pick them up if they’re at a party where alcohol is present.
    • Monitoring you kids means you’re aware of their plans and whereabouts and you know their day-to-day world.
    • It’s important for kids to have boundaries, and to know that they’re safe and that you care. All kids need help to stay alcohol-free.
    • Ask the 5 W’s: who will they be with, where are they going, what are they doing, when will they be home, & will alcohol be present.
    • Then be sure to follow-up with your child about what they did after they return home, since plans can often change.

To learn more about Parents Empowered and what you can do to help prevent your child from experimenting with alcohol visit their website.