Underage drinking: Keeping holiday cheer safe
The holidays have arrived. That ‘most wonderful time of the year’ is very social. Parents may stock up on liquor, wine and beer, making it readily accessible to teens. It’s important to talk with your teen about underage drinking. Guide them on keeping holiday cheer fun and safe.
Have the conversation
December is one of the top 3 months during the year when teens have their first taste of alcohol. Before arriving at a party or hosting a celebration, sit down with your teen and discuss underage drinking at holiday parties. Give them your rules and be sure they know the consequences of breaking those rules. Have a dialogue. Listen to what they have to say and be prepared with responses.
Map out a plan to stay safe
Teens need guidance. Keep them safe by role-playing scenarios they may find themselves in during the holidays.
- What if everyone they are with is drinking? Give your teen a code word to text you for a ride. No questions asked.
- How can they gracefully turn down an offer for a drink? Talk through some suggestions to help teens feel comfortable saying “no”.
Make sure everyone knows the rules
People have different opinions when it comes to drinking during the holidays. “It’s just one drink.” “Oh, it will be fine – it’s the holidays!” “He’s responsible. He can handle a drink or two.” Prevent underage drinking by talking with your friends and family before the party. Ask they not offer your kids (or any other kids) a drink.
Focus on activities and fun
Come armed with fun games for all to enjoy that do not focus on drinking. Those oldies but goodies create great memories: dice, cards, charades, gift-exchange games. Games keep everyone together.
Know where you keep your alcohol and how much you have available. Empty out any unfinished drinks. Keep an eye on your teens and other underage kids at the party. How will you address the situation if you see someone underage drinking? Preventing underage drinking doesn’t just mean talking to your teen. It also means knowing how to respond when the situation gets uncomfortable for you.
Be the role model
Actions speak louder than words. Your teens are watching you. If you are at a party, don’t drink and drive. If you are the host, acknowledge designated drivers. Prepare special non-alcoholic drinks for them to enjoy. Don’t allow family and friends to get behind the wheel. Let others know that you have planned ahead for overnight guests if needed.
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