Signs of Teenage Drinking
How to tell if your teenager has started drinking alcohol
Parents can be fearful of the possibility with signs that their teenagers are drinking alcohol, particularly if they drink alcohol themselves and are concerned that their kids might be copying their drinking behaviour. Parents can also be concerned about the influence that role models are having on their teenager’s attitudes to alcohol.
As teenagers push the boundaries they may experiment with alcohol to feel more grown up. Keeping these ‘grown-up’ things from their parents is part of them exercising their independence. It may be years before they let on about their first experience with alcohol, but the signs are there and are unmistakable. Slurred speech, the smell of alcohol on their breath or clothes, and change in mood or demeanour are just some of the more obvious signs.
- Look out for the signs, which are likely to be obvious and if they even drink a moderate amount; at the very least you will be able to smell it on their breath or their clothing.
- Explain your concerns about their drinking. Tell them about the range of risks involved with underage drinking and your concerns. They may not agree with your views on the matter but they need to understand why you have created the rules in the first place.
- Set clear boundaries. Make your expectations regarding alcohol very clear and if rules are broken, be consistent with following through on agreed consequences that are realistic and appropriate.
- If your rules have been broken make sure your consequences have been discussed beforehand so that your teenager is not surprised as to what happens next.
- Find out what is going on with your teenager to lead to this occurring. It is important to be aware that although the media would have you believe that the majority of teenagers get drunk regularly, most young people of this age do not. Don’t try to convince yourself to think that this is ‘just a stage’ and that all young people go through it. Drinking to excess is potentially life threatening at any age – as a parent you need to deal with it appropriately.
- Make sure your teen knows that no matter what happens you will be there for them. They can call you anytime and anywhere – if something goes wrong, you will be there. You want them to come home safely and if that involves you going out after midnight to pick them up from a party that has gone wrong – you will do it!