One of the greatest fears many parents have is that their child picks up an adult-sized problem.
If the consequences of drinking were no worse than the consequences of eating an entire package of Oreos in one sitting, then drinking would not be a problem. But there are so many layers of how bad drinking is for the body that it is hard to keep track of them all.
Suffice to say, parents want to keep their kids from drinking. But just how do they go about doing that? You cannot keep track of your child all the time without locking them in Rapunzel’s tower, and you can’t dictate every behavior their exhibit. You need a more delicate approach.
For that reason, we will be going over 10 things you can do to keep your child from drinking.
1. Don’t Keep Drinks Around the House
The simplest place to start is keeping alcohol out of your child’s hands. If it is hard for them to get, then it is hard for them to drink. Many parents will have alcohol they keep around the house for personal use—beer for relaxing, wine for partying, scotch for celebrations.
Get rid of it. Even locking it up will only prove to keep it away from children temporarily.
2. Don’t Drink Yourself
Or at the very least, do not let your child see you drink. Setting a good example is one of the best ways to keep your child from drinking. Children mirror their caretakers—it is how they learn to be people. If you get scared, they get scared. And if you relax by drinking, so will they.
Ideally this means cutting out drinking altogether, but just hiding it from them works too.
3. Keep Track of the Child’s Mood
Adults will fall into alcoholism due to many reasons, but one of the most common is depression. Children are no different in this regard. Alcohol helps relieve tension and stress, so they use it to manager their tension and stress. There are better ways though.
If you have a solid idea of how stressed your child is and help provide them ways to deal with it, then you will take away a lot of the need they feel they have for alcohol.
4. Keep Track of Your Child’s Friends
Most children are introduced to alcohol through a bad influence. There might be someone who has easier access to it or a greater desire for it. It might sound harsh, but you need to keep track of how your child relates to that friend. Does that mean making sure they are not friends?
5. Manage Your Child’s Moral Compass
Distancing your child from everyone that could possibly hurt them will result in them being isolated at best and rebellious at worst. The better response to bad influences is informing your child’s moral compass so that they know the bad influence is bad on some level.
6. Give Your Children Space
The myth of the “rebellious teenager” is everywhere in how our culture treats children. We readily expect children to grow up to hate us. But it does not have to be that way. A lot of the time, children rebel because they have unmet social needs.
If you allow a certain amount of risk into your child’s life, you can meet these needs and still manage how much trouble they are getting into.
7. Know Your Child’s Friends
A child’s friends are a lot less likely to try and pressure them into things if they personally know that child’s caretakers. Why? Well, let’s not mince words: They know they will get in trouble.
Essentially, it is a threat. You do not have to be actively menacing to the child’s friends. They just have to know that there will be consequences to bringing harm to your child.
8. Know Your Child’s Friends’ Parents
Similarly, get to know the parents of your child’s friends. Now, we mentioned how giving a child space to be friends with a bad influence can be a good thing. But that rule only applies to other children. If the bad influence is someone much older than the kid, then the rules are different.
You can let your child spend time around other children who might be bad influences as long as those other children know to be afraid of the consequences. But do not ever let your child spend time around an adult who might be a bad influence. The risks are too high.
An adult that wants to get a child to drink, for whatever reason, cannot be trusted to have a rational reaction to the possibility of consequences for their bad behavior. In short, they may do damage to your child that is irreversible, even if the consequences have been made clear.
9. Get Your Children Involved in Family Life
Children do not always seek out alcohol. At times, it is what they do from a lack of options. Getting a child involved in spending time with their family helps them have something to do, which means they are a lot less likely to experiment with alcohol out of curiosity.
10. Get Your Child into Extracurricular Activities
We saved the most obvious one for last, though while it is an obvious thing to do for your child, it is not an obvious solution to keeping your child away from drinking.
Children end up drinking for many reasons, and extracurriculars help deal with those reasons. Isolation, bad influences, and curiosity are a lot less troublesome when a child has a community of dedicated students that are engaged in an activity. That is what extracurriculars provide.
One of the big things to remember is that even if your child ends up experimenting with drinking at some point, that does not mean they are some fallen angel or flawed being.
If you overreact, you will just push them away more. Take a look at the information from Ascendant New York to learn more.