The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice.
There are lots of ways we can connect with our kids. Connection is as essential to us as parents as it is to our children. When a child has a consistent, honest, kind, loving and stable parental/guardian relationship they are more likely to flourish during adolescence and teen years; especially in their life choices-including the decision not to use alcohol and other drugs.
- Make it a habit of chatting with your child every day. It will make it easier to have serious conversations about alcohol, and will make your child more comfortable coming to you for advice.
- Discuss shared interests like sports, music, art, technology or movies on a regular basis. Take time to learn about your kid’s hobbies and participate, even if it is you on the sideline.
- Be sure to attend at least some of their activities so they know what they are doing is important to you. If you miss an activity be sure to tell them why and ask them about what happened.
- Engage in extracurricular activities with your child. Train together for a mud run, race or obstacle course; volunteer in your community; garden/landscape together, find music you both like.
- Work through challenges together-growing up is hard (especially for tweens/teens). If your child had an argument with a close friend or boy/girl they may feel their world is falling apart, talk about how they feel, what might make them feel better, and what they can do to re-engage with the person.
- Enjoying a family meal together– kids whose families eat dinner together at least five times per week are less likely to smoke, drink and use drugs.
- Read to and with your child – even your tween and teens. Reading allows for bonding with your kids like nothing else. With teens read the same book they are interested in.
- Don’t ever stop playing with your kids. Do something they like, such as playing video games or shooting hoops. Don’t discount family game night with your tweens-they love it.
- Create together– involve your kid in decorating or fixing something around the house. Cook dinner together. Art dates are a big hit, take advantage of it.
In connecting with your child be sure to allow the right amount of independence. Keeping your child sheltered creates problems of its own. Let them go out with friends, but in the right settings. Let them negotiate with you about what is expected like curfew and chores. A healthy two way connection between you and your child will help them learn to navigate the messy waters of their teen years.
Research shows that teens whose parents communicate to them that underage drinking is completely unacceptable are more than 80% less likely to drink than teen whose parents give them other messages about underage drinking. Talking and sharing your thoughts about alcohol with your kids is essential! As important is to hear their point of view. Give your child the opportunity to ask you questions, and listen to what they have to say. Children who have parents who listen to their feelings and concerns are more likely to say “NO” to alcohol.
- Encourage conversation – Don’t lecture.As parents we want to have “all the answers” sometimes we are so anxious to share our wisdom or our opinion that we don’t take the time to listen.
- Listen without interruption – your active listening will start a trend for conversations about topics that concern you.
- Ask open-ended questions – avoid questions that have a simple “yes” or “no” answer.
- Encourage your teen to tell you they think and feel about the issue you’re discussing.
- Control your emotions – if you hear something you don’t like, don’t respond with anger. Take a minute and a few deep breaths. Acknowledge your feelings in a constructive way.
- Watch your tone of voice and body language. Model what you want your teen to do.
- Show respect for your kid’s point of view, it will make them more likely to listen to and respect your viewpoint.
- The truth is important – if you have a family history of issues with alcohol or drugs, be matter of fact about it, as you would any other chronic disease, such as high blood pressure or diabetes.
- Remember to talk to your kids about alcohol advertising. Most messages are especially powerful and influence kids more than you know.
- Focus efforts on teaching children what TO do, instead of what NOT to do,and reminding them regularly that the majority of youth do not drink alcohol.
The more you talk to your kids, and the more you really get to know them, the easier it will be to gauge what they need to hear.
Kids constantly texting?
Teens talk in code. Learning that code is important.
Teen Text Talk 101:
Don’t be intimidated by the codes – most of them come from dropping vowels or replacing words with numbers for the sake of speed.
BCUZ = Because
BTW = By the way
CUL8R = See you later
H&K = Hugs and kisses
F2T = Free to talk
JK = Just kidding
TTYL = Talk to ya later
GUDLUK = Good luck
Mber = Remember
It might be hard to keep up with all the changing terms, but as long as you are being clear, your teen will get the message.
At a loss for words? We’ve got you covered. Try some of these:
(True, there tends to be a lack of proper punctuation, grammar and spelling when texting. It’s all part of the texting culture.)
- If u feel pressured – don’t give in – get out! We will come get u.
- Alcohol is a drug and is addictive.
- Your real friends won’t care. If there is alcohol tell them “Not for me”
- Yup it’s me – have fun – luv u!
- One choice can change everything- Alcohol lowers your judgment, u may do something that u will regret!
- I trust you to make good decisions 2nite. Let me know if you need anything. Mber here for u!
- Be careful tonight. If your friends offer you a drink just say you promised me no.
- Have fun tonight. Keep your curfew in mind. Call me if you need anything.
- Have fun B safe-you are the best thing in this world! Mber that!
- Promises-mber ours! Be safe tonight. Love you.
- There is a link tween alcohol and HIV-WOW!
- Have fun 2night. Stay safe. Don’t drink.
When an adolescent/teen chooses to drink alcohol they could face a variety of consequences. Alcohol can cause serious physical damage, from hangovers to death from alcohol poisoning. It is estimated that 5,000 people under age 21 die every year from alcohol-related injuries from traffic fatalities, suicides, and homicides. Underage drinking increases risky sexual behavior, including unwanted, unintended, and unprotected sexual activity. Such behavior increases the risk for unplanned pregnancy and for contracting transmitted diseases (STDs), including infection with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Finally alcohol can damage the developing teenage bring.
- Be a Parent, Not a Friend. – When parents monitor, supervise and set boundaries their teens are at a lowered risk for using drugs and alcohol.
- Consequences: Health & Future. – Make sure your tween/teen knows the serious and possible long term consequences of alcohol to their health and future. And be certain to highlight how it could negatively impact college acceptances.
- Set Expectations. – Make it clear that you do not want your child drinking alcohol and that you trust them not to.
- Set Rules. – Set firm but reasonable rules such as curfew, expecting to be notified when plans change and knowing at all times where your teen will be.
- Talk Consequences. – Tell your kids (more than once) the consequences of alcohol use, both legal and medical, and be clear about what you will do if the rules regarding this are broken.
- Get the facts. – It is easy to react out of that fear, frustration, and anger, but you can do harm to your connection if you accuse your child of wrongdoing without actual proof.
- Problem-Solve. – Every so often, discuss your family rules and expectations. Acknowledge peer pressure and take it to the next step by doing some problem solving. For example, “What are you going to do if you are out with your friends and someone offers you alcohol?”
- Be Clear & Concise. – Tell your kids that underage drinking is not a teen rite of passage and is not an excusable teen experience. Clearly state that in fact everyone is not using alcohol.
- The Family Impact. – Be specific about the consequences your teen and their bad decisions have upon the family as a whole, especially the impact on their younger siblings who often look to them as how to act.