Tuesday 5 August 2014

Signs your child is drinking and how to empower them to say NO.

Peer pressure is one of the biggest reasons kids drink. Adverts in the media show young adults, drinking alcohol and having fun, being grown up. TV adverts glamourize alcohol and the message of ‘enjoy responsibly’ is rarely taken in as a warning, more of a slogan.

There are many reasons as to why under 18s drink alcohol, they mimic behavior of others around them, their friends and family members, they may complain of being bored, stressed, unhappy, lack confidence, want to rebel or are angry. There could be death in the family, a change of school, not doing as well in their subjects as they wanted.

Many teenagers go though these stages and not all take to drinking alcohol, some may take drugs also, self harm or become reclusive, some have eating problems. But not all teenagers resort to the above, some will choose to talk to a parent, a teacher, a family member or a friend. From an early age we teach our children about the rights and wrongs, we teach them to say pleases and thank yous to say no to strangers if offered sweets or a lift. We can empower our children from an early age to say NO to anything they don’t want to do, teach them to walk away, ask them will these so called friends be there to help them in a difficult situation? Teach them the concesquences of their behavior, their actions, even the future implications on their working and family lives and future relationships. A lot of what you say may appear to go in one ear and out the other, but they tak in a lot more than you realize.

A lot of teenage angst is that, just angst, but you should talk with your teenager, support and guide them whatever the issues are and look for an alternative way to channel their issues.

Easier said than done most of the time and as a Mother to 4 boys aged 15-25 it is difficult to know when to intervene, are their mood swings due to hormones? Are they getting in trouble at school, struggling with concentration, mood swings etc? Is there a problem that you can help resolve? Visit their teacher at school to find out what is going on there? Ask a family member or a friend that you know they get on well with to intervene and have a chat? Or do you let them know you are there and give them space to works things out for themselves?

Grounding my children and banning them from activities never worked, neither did taking items away from them. It didn’t encourage them to talk to me about their problems it caused them to shut down. I don’t advocate treating your child as an adult or an equal, but I do advocate treating them as an individual and treating them with respect, letting them know you are there, letting them know there will be no consequences if they confide in you, unless of course they have broken the law.

I also told my children as teens and still do tell them now that I’m not here to tell them off, have a go, interfere, just that I am here to help and the sooner they ask for help from me or someone else, then the sooner they can resolve their issues and move on. It’s been hard work, it’s been challenging, but I am their mum and I certainly didn’t opt to have kids for an easy life.

Every child is different, every parent handles situations differently. With my 4 boys, what worked with one, didn’t with another, it’s just about finding a middle ground.

Visit South Africa Breweries for warning signs to look out for that your child is drinking alcohol here

There are also some good tips on how to empower your child to say no to alcohol which you can read here.

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