In any given month, 39 percent of teens admit to using alcohol, and emergency rooms are seeing some 189,000 visits each year associated with underage alcohol use, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If you discover alcohol under your teen's bed, you might feel angry or fearful and worried as to what your teen is doing. Now that you've made the discovery, you can help your teen to stay away from alcohol, as well as teach him the dangers of ignoring that advice.
Like any parent, you will confiscate the bottles and have a serious heart-to-heart conversation with your teen. He needs to know (and understand) the consequences of underage drinking, so you should explain the consequences in as detail. Use facts from the Centers for Disease Control to start the discussion. For example, teens who drink are more likely to have poor grades, trouble making friends, memory problems and growth delays. Teens who use alcohol are at a higher risk for sexual assault, car accidents and other life-threatening accidents, as well. Once your teen understands the risks of drinking, he's less likely to use alcohol in the future.
Establish Firm Expectations
If you never thought that your teen would be drinking, you might not have established clear rules regarding alcohol. With clear, firm expectations, you'll be able to convey exactly what you expect from your teen. In this case, do not allow her to drink until she turns 21. According to HelpGuide.org, you need additional consequences if you (or anyone else) catches your teen is caught with alcohol a second time. Make sure the consequences mean something to your teen so they motivate her to adhere to the rules. A reasonable consequence is that she would lose her driving privileges or that you do ground her from spending spend time with friends, for a specified period. Be consistent with your rules and consequences to enforce your discipline plan, recommends the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
Encourage Hobbies and Interests
If your teen doesn't have anything better to do than hang out with friends, then alcohol becomes more tempting than if he has more constructive activities. Encourage your teen to get involved in activities he enjoys or to find hobbies that will occupy his free time, suggest the HelpGuide.org website. Joining a sports team or trying out for the school play are constructive ideas. Your teen might also enjoy home-based hobbies like sewing, scrapbooking or building model cars. Monitor your teen's activities to ensure he is engaging in healthy activities and not spending time with friends who might influence him to drink. You can make your home a cool hang out spot when you provide non-alcoholic drinks, snacks, movies on TV, as well as video and board games and puzzles. When your teen and his friends spend time at your home, you see that they aren't drinking.
Seek Outside Help
If your intervention methods don't work, seek outside help so your teen understands the risks of drinking and can learn how to stop, according to the Palo Alto Medical Foundation. Your child's pediatrician is a good resource and will be able to provide tips, as well as be a referral to a counselor or other health care professional. Your teen might respond to a pastor or other clergy member, as well. If your teen has a serious drinking problem, an in-patient rehabilitation program might be what it takes to help her overcome her addiction, the KidsHealth website notes.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Underage Drinking
- KidsHealth: Alcohol
- National Institutes on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism: The Cool Spot
- Palo Alto Medical Foundation: Teens and Alcohol
- National Institutes on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism: Make a Difference: Talk to Your Child About Alcohol
- HelpGuide.org: Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse
- Photo Credit George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images