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Discuss alcohol abuse in children? – Part 1

• Many kids and teens try alcohol during their high school and college years.
• It is long before it’s legal for them to drink it.
• Research has shown that nearly 80% of high school kids have tried alcohol.
• So it’s important to start discussing alcohol use and abuse with your kids at an early age.
• Keep talking about it as they grow up.

Effects of Alcohol Abuse

• Alcohol interferes with a person’s perception of reality and ability to make good decisions.
• This can be particularly hazardous for kids and teens that have less problem-solving and decision-making experience.

Short-term effects of drinking include:
• distorted vision
• hearing
• coordination
• altered perceptions
• emotions
• impaired judgment
• drowning
• other risky behaviors like unsafe sex and drug use
• bad breath
• hangovers

Long-term effects include:
• cirrhosis
• cancer of the liver
• loss of appetite
• serious vitamin deficiencies
• stomach ailments
• heart and central nervous system damage
• memory loss
• an increased risk of impotence
• high risk for overdosing

What is the role of parents?

• Childhood is a time of learning and discovery, so it’s important to encourage kids to ask questions.
• Let them ask even ones that might be hard to answer.
• Open, honest, age-appropriate communication now sets the stage for your kids and will help them to come to you later with other difficult topics or problems.

Preschoolers
• 3- and 4-year-olds start to develop the decision-making and problem-solving skills.
• You can help them develop those skills in some simple ways.
• Let toddlers choose their own clothing and don’t worry if the choices don’t match.
• This lets them know you think they’re capable of making good decisions.
• Assign simple tasks.
• Let kids know what a big help they are.
• Set a good example of the behavior that you want your kids to demonstrate.
• This is especially true in the preschool years when kids tend to imitate adults’ actions.
• By being active, eating healthy, and drinking responsibly, parents teach their kids important lessons early on.

Ages 4 to 7
• Kids this age still think and learn mostly by experience.
• They don’t have a good understanding of things that will happen in the future.
• So keep discussions about alcohol in the present tense.
• Relate them to things that kids know and understand.
• Encourage kids to ask questions too.
• Kids are interested in how their bodies work.
• This is a good time to talk about maintaining good health and avoiding substances that might harm the body.
• Talk about how alcohol hurts a person’s ability to see, hear, and walk without tripping.
• Tell them it alters the way people feel; and it makes it hard to judge things like whether the water is too deep or if there’s a car coming too close.
• Let them know that it gives people bad breath and a headache.

Ages 8 to 11
• The later elementary school years are a crucial time.
• You can influence your child’s decisions about alcohol use.
• Kids at this age tend to love to learn facts, especially strange ones.
• They are eager to learn how things work and what sources of information are available to them.
• This is a good time to openly discuss facts about alcohol.
• Let them know about its long- and short-term effects.
• Tell them about the consequences, its physical effects, and why it’s especially dangerous for growing bodies.
• Kids also can be heavily influenced by friends now.
• Their interests may be determined by what their peers think.
• Teach your child to say “no” to peer pressure.
• Discuss the importance of thinking and acting as an individual with them.
• Casual discussions about alcohol and friends can take place at the dinner table.

Recognizing and Managing Children with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome/Fetal Alcohol Free Adult Children of Alcoholics Don’t Let Your Kids Kill You

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