As we approach the new school year parents and teachers are preparing themselves for another year of aspiring young minds testing the limits of achievement. High school students and freshman at colleges across the country will also be preparing for another year of parties where drinking and drug use will take place. Naturally, parents and teachers will be working hard to combat peer pressure and binge drinking to the best of their ability. There is never any question about whether or not students will be drinking, the goal is to limit students' ability to binge drink and drive drunk.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving has partnered with Pennsylvania State University’s Dr. Robert Turrisi on a program that is based on his handbook for parents of college freshman. The handbook has helped to reduce underage drinking behaviors, even in households with below average communication.
Here are a few practical tips for communicating with teens about underage drinking:
Talk before a problem starts.
- Have the important discussions now, before there’s blame, anger or punishments.
- Agree on a time to talk about the dangers of alcohol — preferably when they’re not tired, hungry or angry.
Discuss rules and consequences.
- Explain expectations and tell them you don’t want him/her drinking.
- Agree on consequences for broken rules.
Show you care.
- Show affection and tell them that you care about them and want them to be healthy and safe.
- Even when life gets hectic, take time out to listen to them.
- Know where they are and what they’re doing.
Give and get respect.
- Listen and respond respectfully when they talk.
- Insist that they treat you with respect too.
"Teen alcohol use kills 6,000 young people each year, more than all other illegal drugs combined. However, research shows that three out of four teens say their parents are the number one influence on their decisions about alcohol", according to MADD's president Jan Withers.