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Talking to teens about underage drinking

Even the brightest teens do not always make the best decisions, and this is particularly true when it comes to alcohol. Teens are still maturing, and they are also at a point in their lives when they are particularly susceptible to peer pressure.

Therefore, it is especially important that you, as a parent, take the time to chat with them about the dangers and consequences of underage drinking.

Tips for talking about underage drinking

The best time to have this type of talk is probably when you and your teen are relaxed and getting along well with one another, and a good way to start the conversation is to ask your teen directly what his or her views on teen drinking are. Come up with ways your teen can refuse alcohol from friends while "saving face," and be prepared to field some questions about your own days as a teenager. If you did drink during your younger years, avoid lying - instead, share a story about a time when your underage drinking landed you or someone you know in trouble.

This is also a good time to address whether any of your family members have a history of problems with alcohol, and if so, let your teen know that this could make him or her more susceptible to developing similar problems. You may, too, want to talk to your teen not only about avoiding drinking and driving but about avoiding getting into vehicles with others who have been drinking.

Tips for reducing teen drinking

When you have your big talk with your teen, outline consequences for underage drinking from the outset. For example, if you plan to cut off cellphones, ground your children or take a similar approach after catching them drinking underage, let them know ahead of time, as it may act as a deterrent. Keeping track of where and when your teen comes and goes may, too, reduce the chances he or she will drink underage, as can setting a healthy example by not over-imbibing yourself.

When it comes to teen drinking, looking the other way can land you - and your child - in serious trouble. Having the talk now can help prevent major problems later on.

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