Productive communication with your teen or young adult doesn’t always have to feel like you’re giving them the third degree. Remain calm, relax and follow the tips below to ensure that your child hears what you have to say — and vise versa.

Try to be objective and open. If you want to have a productive conversation with your child, do your best to keep an open mind and hear their point of view. Your child is more likely to be receptive this way.

Ask open-ended questions. These are questions that elicit more than just a “yes” or “no” response. It will lead to a more engaging and productive conversation.

Ask why your child is interested in drinking. This gets your teen to think about their future, what their boundaries are around drinking and some of the possible negative consequences. This may include being late to practice, doing something stupid or dangerous, or feeling hungover. It will also give you insight into what may be behind your child’s drinking. You can then suggest ways of better managing those motivations.

Let your kid know they’re being heard. Use active listening and reflect back what you are hearing — either verbatim, or just the sentiment. For example, you can say, I’m hearing that you feel overwhelmed, and that you think drinking helps you relax. Is that right?

Discuss the negative effects of alcohol, and what that means in terms of mental and physical health, safety and making good decisions. Talk about the long-term effects.

Offer empathy and compassion. Let your child know you understand. The teen years can be tough. Acknowledge that everyone struggles sometimes, but alcohol is not a useful or healthy way to cope with problems. Let your child know that they can trust you.

If there is a history of addiction in your family, then your child has a much greater risk of developing a problem. Be aware of this elevated risk and discuss it as you would with any disease.




What Causes Teen Alcoholism?


Alcoholism is a complex disease and there is no single causal factor, however, it is possible to see patterns in those teens who ultimately go on the develop alcoholism. The list below outlines the most common factors seen in teen alcoholism:


Family: low parental supervision and communication, family conflicts, inconsistent or severe parental discipline, and a family history of alcohol or drug abuse.


Individual: problems managing impulses, emotional instability, thrill-seeking behaviors, and perceiving the risk of using alcohol to be low.


Social: There is peer pressure to drink, to be a part of the crowd, assuming “it won’t happen to me.”


Genetic: Alcoholic parents or grandparents increase the chances of developing an addiction to alcohol.


Age: Young people are at greater risk of developing alcoholism, especially if they start drinking by age 16 or sooner.


Psychological: People suffering from depression or low self-esteem may be more likely to develop drinking problems.


Alcohol can harm the growing brain, especially when teens drink a lot. Today we know that the brain continues to develop from birth through the teen years into the mid-20s.


Alcohol decreases teens’ ability to pay attention.


Teens that drink alcohol are more likely to have problems with school work and discipline problems.


The three leading causes of death for 15- to 24-year-olds are car crashes, homicides and suicides — alcohol is a leading factor in all three.