01 Sep Talk to your kids about alcohol before middle school, doctors say
Talking to your kids about the dangers of underage drinking before 10 is crucial, according to a new report by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
However, most parents are waiting too long to talk to their kids about alcohol.
One-third of parents wait until their children are 14 to 19 years old, already in high school, to start talking about alcohol, according to a survey released by Mothers against Drunk Drinking and Nationwide Insurance in April.
The AAP report states that children start to think positively about alcohol between ages 9 and 13.
Exposure to alcohol advertising and marketing can heavily influence if, and how much, young people drink, according to the AAP committee of doctors.
The doctors emphasize the importance of talking to children about the dangers of drinking as early as 9 years old.
The average age of first use of alcohol also reinforces the need to talk to children about the dangers of underage drinking at an early age.
Nationally, the average age of first use of alcohol is 16 years old, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. In East Texas, the average is 12.9 years old, according to the 2014 Texas School Survey.
Disruption of brain development, increased risk of alcohol dependence, poor academic performance, risky sexual behavior and death are just a few of the consequences of underage drinking.
The good news is that 80 percent of teenagers say their parents are the biggest influence on whether they decide to drink alcohol or not, according to Journal of Adolescent Health.
Parents need to educate themselves on the consequences of underage drinking and have early, and consistent conversations with their kids about the dangers of alcohol.
Resources for talking to your kids about alcohol:
Talk. They hear you.– Underage drinking prevention campaign by the Substance Abuse and Mental Services Administration to help parents start talking to their kids about the dangers of alcohol.
Power of Parents– Free parent handbooks and online workshops for tips and tools on how to talk with your kids about alcohol from the Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
Resources on the dangers of underage drinking: