A recent study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics found that that the more exposure teens had to alcohol use in movies, the more likely they were to binge drink.
The age, affluence and rebelliousness of the teens did not seem to matter. And this pattern was observed across cultures in countries with different norms regarding teen and adult alcohol use and drinking culture.
What can parents do to make sure kids don’t pick up the cues from the many movies out these days that show alcohol use? And what are some ways that parents can prevent a child from binge drinking?
Dr. Dale Guthrie, a pediatrician in practice at Gilbert Pediatrics, says communication is the key.
Guthrie, who serves as vice president of the Arizona Chapter of the AAP, encourages parents to stay involved — and to make sure to meet and know their children’s friends, from the early days of pre-school right on through high school.
More tips from Dr. Guthrie on how to help prevent your child from using alcohol and other drugs:
- Know where your teen is at all times. Teens may act as if they don’t like it but teens are actually more secure knowing their parents care enough to know where they are and what they’re doing.
- Consciously and genuinely praise your teen for something good he does every day.
- Make sure she knows she can talk to you about anything, at any time, if it is important to her and that she won’t be interrupted judgmentally with a lecture.
- Remember you are his parent, (not his best friend, afraid to step on his toes) and offer advice when requested and at opportune teaching moments in short phrases, not long lectures which are tuned out anyway.
- Better yet, ask inspired questions of your teen—the kind which help her arrive at the correct solution.
- Attend movies with your teen and then ask open-ended questions about what he thought about it.
- At a nonthreatening time, (not right as your teen is headed out to a movie), sit down as a family and discuss what are your family goals and standards. As part of that, set family standards for what types of movies you will view and which are beneath your family standards.
- When your teen returns from being out with friends, it is helpful to have a “check-in” with parents. If the tradition has been set that he will give parents a hug (or even a kiss) no matter what time he returns, parents will know more about what he’s been doing just by being close to him, listening and observation.
Parents of younger children might not be thinking about the teenage years, but is there anything they can do to lower the risk that their child will abuse alcohol down the road?
One very simple way is for parents to make sure they truly listen to their child right from the start.
Guthrie says that children need to feel that what they say is of prime importance to their parents. “Then when she has something really serious to discuss, he adds, “she will feel comfortable coming to you.”
Modeling healthy behaviors themselves, and engaging kids in conversation at opportune moments (short snippets in lieu of lengthy lectures) are other ways parents can make a difference, says Guthrie.
RAK Archives: Talking to teens about alcohol poisoning
More on talking to kids about drugs and alcohol, and upcoming Parent Workshops from the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, Arizona Affiliate