As parents, we know how important it is to share with our kids the right messages about alcohol use. But too often, we falter. We stumble. We don’t get it right. Fortunately, experts like the staff at Maryland-based treatment facility Serenity Acres Treatment Center know how to approach these tough conversations so that kids will internalize the messages. Here’s what they suggest parents do:
Don’t wait until your child is in high school and facing intense peer pressure to discuss the risks of alcohol abuse. Start as early as possible to equip your child with the tools and knowledge to back down in uncomfortable situations. Of course how you approach your child will depend on age. You might not discuss addiction or alcohol overdose with a 6-year-old, but you could explain what happens to your body when you drink and why drinking is for grown-ups only.
Keep it casual.
Skip the formal lecture and try embedding brief messages into everyday conversation. Most children are naturally curious about alcohol. They might ask why their favorite celebrity was caught drinking and driving or why their aunt was acting funny after a few glasses of wine. Seize those moments of curiosity and turn them into easy and approachable lessons.
Make sure you conduct the conversation in a way that’s as comfortable as possible for your child. Ask yourself whether your child will be receptive to what you want to discuss. Are they with friends? Are they distracted? Are they tired or stressed out by homework? If so, save it for a better time.
Encourage open dialogue.
Remember that the conversation should always be two-sided. Give your child the opportunity to ask questions and to express their feelings. Let them know they’re in a judgement-free zone and that you have their happiness and safety in mind.
Set a good example.
Perhaps more powerful than talking to your kids about drinking is showing children how to drink responsibly. Children imitate what they see, so be mindful of your actions around them.
To learn more about Serenity Acres Treatment Center, click here.