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UT: Why NOW is a good time to talk to your kids about not drinking underage

UT: Why NOW is a good time to talk to your kids about not drinking underage

FOX 13
December 20, 2021

The holidays are here and with that the availability of alcohol increases for your teens.

Parents Empowered says that is why they want to share the message with parents to talk to their kids about the harms of underage drinking this holiday and new year season.

The good news is that most kids don’t drink. Parents Empowered credits parents communicating the benefits of a healthy brain and having ongoing conversations with their kids about why it’s important to remain alcohol-free until age 21.

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.

Parents Empowered recommends parents get to know their kids’ friends and their parents. Also, it’s important to work with other parents to monitor what your kids are doing and keep them healthy and safe.

A healthy brain is crucial to a child’s success in life. Research shows that alcohol affects a child’s brain differently than adults. Alcohol can impair a child’s brain development and harm areas of the brain associated with decision-making, memory, learning and impulse control.

Young, still-developing brains can also be more vulnerable to addiction.

Parents Empowered says there are things parents can do to prevent underage drinking this season. 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 parentsempowered.org.