The holidays are a time when many parents and teens spend more time around each other than usual. This can give parents a better opportunity to detect signs that their child is drinking. Even if they tell you they aren't, holiday parties and get-togethers with friends often include alcohol.
Recently, we talked about the importance of having a plan so that your child can call or text you with an agreed-on code to come and get them out of a situation i which they aren't comfortable. However, often teens have no interest in leaving a party where people are drinking.
So, how can parents tell if their teen has started drinking if they won't admit it to them? Most parents think they can spot the signs. However, many kids know how to mask the odor of alcohol when they come home and realize that their parents would notice if they stole a bottle from the liquor cabinet.
There are less obvious signs that a teen may be drinking. According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, these include:
- Withdrawal from family and friends
- Sudden mood changes
- Depression and/or irritability
- Spending time with kids you haven't met
- Loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy
- New problems with grades and/or discipline issues at school
- Missed curfews
Of course, there could be reasons for all of these changes that don't involve alcohol. However, no matter what the reason, they warrant attention.
If you know or suspect that your child is drinking, it never hurts to have a talk with them about the potential dangers to their health, safety and future. Even if you've had "the talk" before, it's wise to have it again. Kids may hear something different than they heard the last time -- and you may have something more or different to say that will get through to them.
If your child has started driving since the last time you talked about alcohol, it's essential to talk to them about the impact of a DUI on their future, including their college plans, scholarship prospects and more. If your child is arrested for DUI, no matter how much you might want them to live with the consequences, you shouldn't let them face the justice system alone.