Perry County Community Task Force
You may think it's safe to say, "It's okay to drink, just don't drive."
You may view underage drinking as inevitable, but it isn't. What you may not realize is that children say parental disapproval of underage drinking is the key reason they have chosen not to drink. Child and parent bonding is critical to the process of teenagers emerging healthy, safe, and alcohol free. If your family has a history of alcoholism, your children need to know that they are at a greater risk for problem drinking.
Alcohol affects a teen brain differently than an adult brain. It can actually cause serious damage to the still-developing brain. It has been revealed that the brain does not stop developing until age 24. Children who begin drinking at age 13 have a 45% chance of becoming alcohol dependent, whereas a person who starts drinking at the legal age of 21 has only a 7% chance of becoming addicted.
Binge drinking now begins as early as elementary school, and parents are often unaware of their child's use of alcohol. In fact, a national survey found 31% of kids who said they had been drunk in the past year had parents who believed their children to be non-drinkers. Most parents start talking to their kids about drinking too late. AGE 8 IS NOT TOO EARLY!
Did You Know...
Alcohol can impair the parts of the brain that control the following:
»Motor coordination - including the ability to talk, drive, and process information.
»Impulse control - drinking lowers inhibitions and increases the chances that a person will do something that they will regret when they are sober.
»Memory - impaired recollection and even blackouts can occur when too much alcohol has been consumed.
»Judgment & Decision Making Capacity - drinking may lead young people to engage in risky behaviors that can result in illness, injury, and even death.
What YOU can do to help your children be alcohol free.
1. Be involved - Develop close bonding experiences and have daily positive interactions with your child.
2. Stay in contact - Studies show children are more likely to drink between the hours of 3pm-6pm, when unsupervised by parents. Give your kids a call.
3. Explain the risks - Learn and explain the risks of underage drinking. Emphasize that drinking alcohol is not a "rite of passage," but a dangerous drug for a teen brain.
4. Talk early & often - Some youth binge drink in the sixth grade, and a few may start even earlier. Talk about the effects of alcohol and other drug use.
5. Set clear rules - Be specific. "Absolutely no underage drinking in our family." Let your children know the rules you have about alcohol and other drugs.
6. Know your children's friends - Get to know your children's friends and their parents. Help them choose friends who support your family rules.
7. Monitor your children's activities - Always know where your children are, whom they are with and what they are doing.
8. Make alcohol unavailable - Ensure that alcohol is not available to your child at home, or from others, when your child is away.
Start Talking Before They Start Drinking
Sharing values and family history regarding alcohol will create an environment of trust and understanding. Encourage your children to talk about concerns and questions about drinking. Be clear that you do not want your children to drink and let them know the consequences if they do drink.