DFOC: Now is the time to begin the conversation about underage drinking

By Jeff King, Drug Free Osage County

Ed. note: With the start of a new school year, Drug Free Osage County Inc. is again offering helpful information on topics such as preventing underage drinking and preventing drug use.

The beginning of school brings the need and opportunity to talk to our youth about underage drinking. Here is some useful guidance on how to effectively carry out this conversation. It comes from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

For many parents, bringing up the subject of alcohol is no easy matter. Your young teen may try to dodge the discussion, and you yourself may feel unsure about how to proceed.

To make the most of your conversation, take some time to think about the issues you want to discuss before you talk with your child. Consider too how your child might react and ways you might respond to your youngster’s questions and feelings. Then choose a time to talk when both you and your child have some “down time” and are feeling relaxed.

You don’t need to cover everything at once. In fact, you’re likely to have a greater impact on your child’s decisions about drinking by having a number of talks about alcohol use throughout his or her adolescence. Think of this talk with your child as the first part of an ongoing conversation.

And remember, do make it a conversation, not a lecture! You might begin by finding out what your child thinks about alcohol and drinking.

Find out your child’s views about alcohol. Ask your young teen what he or she knows about alcohol and what he or she thinks about teen drinking. Ask your child why he or she thinks kids drink. Listen carefully without interrupting. Not only will this approach help your child to feel heard and respected, but it can serve as a natural lead-in to discussing alcohol topics.

Jeff King is the community mobilizer for Drug Free Osage County, Inc. He can be contacted at [email protected].

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