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What Parents Can Do To Reduce Underage Drinking
As a parent or caregiver, you play a vital role in influencing your child's attitudes and behaviors. You serve as a role model on the use of alcohol, control the availability of alcohol in your home and help set your child's expectations concerning drinking behaviors. A recent study shows that children whose parents are involved in their lives — hold regular conversations, attend after school events and listen to their problems are less likely to drink or smoke.
Before You Ask Your Child Questions, Ask a Few  of Yourself:

» Do you know how to discuss alcohol use with your child and where to get helpful information?
» Do you know your child's friends and do you feel that they provide positive influences on your child's activities?
» Do you know the legal consequences if your child is caught drinking alcohol?
» Do you know your State's laws about providing alcohol to anyone under 21?
If you answered "NO" to any of the above questions, you may want to visit www.myaa.org or call 1-877-NOW-ACT-0 to arm yourself with the most current information.



  • Alcohol us a powerful drug that slows down the body and mind. It impairs coordination; slows reaction time and impairs vision, clear thinking and judgment.
  • Beer and wine are not "safer" than hard liquor. A 12-ounce can of beer, a 5-ounce glass of wine and 1.5 ounces of hard liquor all contain the same amount of alcohol and have the same effects on the body and mind.
  • On average, it takes 1 to 2 hours for a single drink to leave the body's system. Nothing can speed up this process, including drinking coffee, taking a cold shower, or "walking it off."
  • People tend to be very bad at judging how seriously alcohol has affected them. That means many individuals who drive after drinking think they can control a car—but actually cannot.
  • Anyone can develop a serious alcohol problem, including a child.
The Next Step is to Open the Lines of Communication with Your Child:
Developing open, trusting communication between you and your child is essential to helping your child avoid alcohol use. If your child feels comfortable talking openly with you, you'll have a greater chance of guiding him or her toward healthy decision making. Some ways to begin:
Encourage conservation. Encourage your child to talk about whatever interests him or her. Listen without interruption and give your child a chance to teach you something new. Your active listening to your child's enthusiasms paves the way for conversations about topics that concern you.
Ask open-ended questions. Encourage your child to tell you how he or she thinks and feels about the issue you're discussing. Avoid questions that have a simple "yes" or "no" answer.
Control your emotions. If you hear something you don't like, try not to  respond with anger. Instead, take a few deep breaths and acknowledge your feelings in a constructive way.
Make every conversation a "win-win" experience. Don't lecture or try to "score points" on your child by showing how he or she is wrong. If you show respect for child's viewpoint, he or she will be more likely to listen to and respect yours.

©2002 Missouri's Youth/Adult Alliance www.myaa.org