Underage drinking is a problem parents are often faced with, and there are many theories about how to keep your kid away from drinking. Some are probably more effective than others, but one thing is for sure: early prevention is key. The sooner you address this issue, the better your chances for success.
Lay the groundwork early
Studies have shown that talking with your kids early on about such things as underage drinking, sex, and cigarette smoking is the best preventative for negative behavior. Be open with them, but don’t get too preachy. Sermons about the evils of anything tend to backfire with kids and young adults. Trying to convince them that it will lead to complete and utter ruin in the future will fall flat when they see their friends suffering no immediate consequences right now. All they see is what they perceive as fun and, in many cases, acceptance by their peers right now. Remember, kids have very little concept of time. There’s only the here and now, and the future seems light years away.
Lead by example
If you really want to keep your kid away from drinking, lead by example. This doesn’t mean you have to be a complete teetotaler in their presence, but if you consume alcoholic beverages in front of them on a regular basis and/or appear inebriated daily, it isn’t going to help your cause one bit. Children of heavy drinkers and alcoholics are far more likely to end up that way themselves. The do-as-I-say-and-not-as-I-do tactic seldom, if ever, works with people of any age. All you’re doing is sending a mixed message that no one’s going to take seriously.
It’s estimated most underage drinking begins at home. If you do a lot of entertaining in your household and you’ve got a liquor cabinet or open bar, by all means lock it up to curb the temptation. In order to keep your kid away from drinking at an early age, you need to be proactive. Why worry about what they’re doing when they’re out with their friends when they don’t even have to leave the comfort and safety of home to drink? Sneaking drinks from the family bar is cheaper for them, and they don’t have to find somebody to buy it for them or run the risk of getting caught trying to purchase it or consume it. Take this into consideration when devising a plan to keep your kid away from drinking.
Keeping the lines of communication open
Finally, be consistent in talking with your kids. Keep the lines of communication open throughout their childhood, and discuss things in a rational manner. This will go a long way towards your goal to keep your kid away from drinking. Take an interest in what they’re doing, and look for any sudden changes in behavior that might signal problems. A good way to do this is regular sit-down dinners, when the whole family gets together and shares the happenings of their day with one another. Children who regularly participate in sit-down meals with the whole family tend to do better in school and get in a lot less trouble both inside and outside of the home.