As children approach their teen years, they begin to experience many emotional and physical changes, and these changes can be challenging. Some youth may experiment with alcohol to try to deal with the challenges of growing up. For most youth, it is not just one thing that influences them to drink, but rather a combination of factors. These factors can include stress caused by a desire to fit in or to get good grades. For some youth, going to a new school can be a trigger.

No matter what issues your child is facing, one of the best things you can do to prevent them from turning to alcohol is to talk with them.

Short, frequent discussions can have a real impact on your child’s decisions about alcohol. Talking to your child at an early age about drinking is the first step toward keeping them alcohol-free. But as they enter junior high and high school, the pressure to try alcohol increases. It’s important to continue the conversation throughout adolescence.

Talking often builds an open, trusting relationship with your child. Young people are more likely to avoid drinking when they have a strong, trusting relationship with their parents. Get into the habit of chatting with your child every day. It will make it easier to have serious conversations about things like alcohol, and will make your child more comfortable coming to you for advice.

Lots of little talks are more effective than one “big talk.” Sitting down for the “big talk” about alcohol can be intimidating for both you and your child. Try using everyday opportunities to talk—in the car, during dinner, or while you and your child are watching TV. Having lots of little talks takes the pressure off trying to get all of the information out in one lengthy discussion, and your child will be less likely to tune you out.

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