Listen With an Open Mind
The biggest barrier to communication with teens is the belief that their problems are trivial. Listen from your teenager's point of view and keep the lines of communication open.
- Listen as if you were listening to your best friend.
- Always ask for their opinion.
- When your child talks to you, avoid interrupting and correcting, just listen.
Get Curious; Ask Better Questions
Start asking open-ended questions that help teens think through potential scenarios involving alcohol. The more curious parents are about their children's lives, the more effective their questions will be.
- “What would you do if your best friend asked you to drink?”
- “What do you think would happen if your ride home from the party started drinking? What would your plan be?”
- “Can I ask your opinion? What are some of the reasons why kids drink?”
- “What are some of the things you're looking forward to after graduation? How do you think those would be affected if you make mistakes with alcohol?”
Avoid Communication Stoppers and “Drive-Thru Parenting”
Practice your conversation skills, listen, give eye contact and avoid being defensive.
- Accusations—“I know that you’re drinking.“
- Interruptions—“I don’t want to hear your excuses.”
- Starting with an agenda or deciding what's going to be discussed before our kids have a chance to talk—“I want to get to the bottom of your disobedience/lying/etc.”
- Rushing the conversation, a.k.a., “Drive-thru parenting”— [as we’re dropping our teen off at a party] “Remember, no drinking, okay?”
Don’t Give Up On Your Influence!
In times of frustration, remember that no one has a greater influence on kids' decisions about alcohol than their parents. Trust the process and keep applying the coaching approach.
- Be clear with your rules around underage drinking.
- Don't give in or give up.
- Be consistent and trust they will make good decisions.