With the teenage years just around the corner, parents of tweens
should spend some time thinking about their children, alcohol influences, and how to parent through it all. While many parents don't think alcohol poses a threat until their children become teens, statistics show that preteens do experiment with alcohol. Preteens also are developing opinions about alcohol, and are curious about drinking and what it feels like to be drunk.
If your child is a preteen, here's what you need to know about children, alcohol and the tween years.
Know the Facts
Studies show that preteens do experiment with alcohol and other risky behaviors
. Boys are likely to try some form of alcohol around the age of 11, while girls wait a little longer, until about age 13. Binge drinking and hazardous drinking are both on the rise with teenagers. And while many preteens understand the dangers of smoking and of using illegal drugs, they also believe that alcohol does not carry as many health or social risks.
Don't be Naive
If you keep alcohol in the house, keep tabs on it so that you'll know if any goes missing. Listen to conversations your child has with his friends
- such as when you're driving carpool or when they're all hanging out at your home. Try to stay on top of negative influences, and try to stay informed about your child's friends, and what they do in their spare time, etc.
Talk About It
Don't forget about the power of talking with your children. Alcohol, sex, drugs and other serious topics should be discussed, not in one long, drawn out lecture, but rather over time. When your child is young, lay the ground work by making the most out of situations you encounter. For example, when alcohol issues present themselves at home, on television, in the movies or with people you know, discuss the consequences and potential dangers with your child. Your preteen may even initiate conversations with you - by asking questions or by telling you about someone he knows.
Staying connected to your network of other parents can keep you informed about what's going on in your community, at school, and in your neighborhood. You may hear, for example, whether or not alcohol will be served at a party your child is planning to attend. Or, that certain children in your neighborhood are getting older siblings to buy alcohol for them.
It's important your child know exactly where you stand when it comes to alcohol and underage drinking. If you don't want your preteen to drink, say so. Also, let your tween know that consequences would follow should he decide to go against your wishes.
Children, Alcohol and Parenting: Keep an Open Door
Tweens and teens face a lot of heavy duty peer pressure
, and your child needs to know that you will be there to help him through tough times. Be sure he understands that he can talk to you, without being judged or criticized, and that you will always be available to help him deal with difficult situations.