Your child is a teenager. You do not accompany him to parties and do not pick him up from school anymore. But there has already been a situation when your teen is visibly drunk after an event. What is the best way to handle this situation?
18 is the minimum drinking age in Latvia; however, we cannot be naive – it starts in the early teens. Teens want to look and behave like adults and drinking often seems the best way to fit in with the group and prove yourself: I drink, so I’ve been able to buy alcohol, so I’m an adult.
It is because of this that parents need to know how to talk to their children about alcohol. Prohibition can only achieve protest. Negotiations and understanding are required, as well as sufficient action.
In any case, the parents’ example is very important for children. You will not teach a teen that drinking is harmful if you do not practice what you preach. Your child needs to know the most important facts about alcohol – what it means to drink too much and how to say no to alcohol.
Where is the problem?
It must be remembered that, biologically speaking, alcohol clearly harms teenagers more than adults. As adolescents have a lower body weight and are not used to drinking, they get drunk very quickly. In the ideal case, children should not drink alcohol until at least the age of 15. In reality, however teenagers use alcohol and do so at an early age, they drink more and more often. 40% of Latvian students aged 14 to 18 have indicated that they have been drunk at least once. Also, 45% of respondents admit that they have consumed alcohol in the last month. Almost a third of respondents or 27% have admitted that half of their friends regularly drink alcohol.
According to a UK study, children who had alcohol for the first time at home and found out about its negative effects from their parents are less likely to drink excessively than those who started drinking when experimenting with peers.
Parents are often unaware of the age at which they should talk about alcohol and, more importantly, how to do it. The good news is that children find their parents’ opinion to be important, and that it is better to talk about the issue at an early age.
Alcohol affects young people’s health in the long run! Regular drinking can lead to brain damage, oral, throat or esophageal cancer, liver cirrhosis, heart disease and/or impotence that only appears once the individual has reached adult age.
Young people aged 15 to 24 are more likely to commit suicide. Since the chemical effects of alcohol on the brain weaken the ability to control their actions, its use contributes to the onset of suicidal thoughts.
Casual Sexual Encounters
As a result of alcohol consumption, teenagers quickly lose self-control and are therefore ready to do things they wouldn’t do while sober. That’s how teens can get involved in casual unprotected sexual encounters.
When drunk, teens are especially vulnerable and can easily become victims of crime.
Teens under the influence of alcohol lose self-control rapidly and, because of that, they can behave aggressively and with poor judgment – from petty hooliganism to theft.
What to do?
Parental examples are key! Abide by the acceptable daily consumption dose yourself (3-4 units per day for men, 2-3 for women), otherwise you will not teach your child that drinking is harmful.
Talk to kids about alcohol and the sooner you do it the better. Remember that at the age of 15, eight out of ten teens will have already tried an alcoholic drink.
The effects of excessive alcohol consumption are often seen in TV shows, movies, news, and are described in the press. Use it as an example and discuss what you have seen or read with a child.
Teach your child to think about safety – stay with friends on the way home from a party, call out loudly for help in the event of an attack, etc.
If your child is drunk, do not react with rage. Discuss what happened the next morning, listen to what they have to say, try to analyze the situation, and suggest how to act in a similar situation the next time.