The average American teen begins drinking at 13 years old. With more youth drinking alcohol than smoking tobacco or marijuana, it is important to talk to your children and make sure they understand the life-altering consequences of drinking and driving, including accepting a ride from a friend who has been drinking.

Talk to your kids about:

Dangers of drinking and driving: The average cost of a DUI conviction in California is $45,435. Not only is driving under the influence a punishable crime that stays on your record for a decade, but car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens.  The ultimate cost could be the life of your teen or the life of an innocent victim.

Alcohol’s effects on lifestyle: Youth who abuse alcohol experience higher absence rate, poor or failing grades, unwanted, unplanned, and unprotected sexual activity, higher risk for suicide and homicide, memory problems, changes in brain development that may have life-long effects and more.

Alcoholism: Youth who start drinking before the age of 15 are five times more likely to develop alcohol dependence or abuse alcohol in their lifetimes than those who begin drinking at age 21 years or later.

Tips to combat teenage angst and communicate:

  • Regularly spend time with your teen: making a point of scheduling time with your children lets them know you are available to guide them when needed.
  • Lights out: prioritizing sleep, gives teens more energy throughout the day and can help them make better choices. Being accountable for your teen’s sleep patterns includes keeping a consistent sleep schedule (weekends included), limiting nap duration and monitoring screen usage during bed time.
  • Exercise: not only is being active a key component of a healthy lifestyle, exercise is also a productive way to manage stress
  • Control your response: Resist the urge to lecture, listen with an open mind, don’t take their moods personal, and avoid interrupting.

Do not be afraid to paint the picture for your children so they understand the last effects their decisions have.  Capitalize on the downtime you spend with your teen – driving to school or waiting and an orthodontics appointment –these are opportunities to listen, connect and keep your children safe.

By: Danielle Floyd

Danielle Floyd serves as executive assistant, at The Risk Authority Stanford, to the CEO and Interim COO. In her role, Danielle also provides administrative support for TRA Stanford consulting, education seminars/ conferences, press and more. Danielle graduated with a BS in Heath Science from California State University East Bay with a concentration on community health. Prior to joining TRA Stanford, she worked in the nonprofit field focusing on improving the lives of children with chronic illness through arts and athletics