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The Power of Choice – Middle School Edition April 2024, Issue 4


The Power of Choice – Middle School Edition

April 2024, Issue 4

Talk with your child about not drinking underage

It’s important to set clear boundaries with your child as they get older and gain more independence. As important as it is for kids to grow and experience the world on their own, it’s also important for parents to set expectations that support healthy coping skills and physical wellness, as well as address any potential struggles that a child could face. This includes letting your teen know that underage drinking is not permitted in your family. Setting boundaries and enforcing consequences could be intimidating, but it is an opportunity to provide care and support to your child. Staying connected to your child is the best way to know what they think about topics like underage drinking.

Natural and Enforced Consequences

There are many types of consequences, including enforced consequences and natural consequences. As a parent, you may choose to set a consequence for your child if they are not adhering to a boundary that you’ve set for your family, such as underage drinking. There is also the possibility that consequences occur that are not set by the parent. Many schools will enforce consequences if a student is caught drinking underage. There also may be repercussions with the child’s sports, clubs, or law enforcement. Letting your child know that these things are a possibility before the child is faced with the decision to drink underage can help your child choose to not partake. The goal is not to scare your teen, but to inform them of real life scenarios that they have the power to prevent. There is also the possibility of long-term consequences such as physical health concerns, addiction, and the development of negative coping skills. These scenarios are all preventable by informing your child of their potential to exist, and providing support for your child throughout these conversations.

Addressing a Need for Care

In addition to enforcing consequences, parents can let their child know that they will first and foremost address a need for care. If a child is caught underage drinking, the underlying reasons may be deeper that curiosity. Let your child know that if they are in a situation where underage drinking is present, you will be available to drive them home and provide support. Your teen may need a listening ear more than anything. Sometimes underage drinking is linked with stress, friend struggles at school, or feelings of sadness. Allow them to ask questions and use you as a resource for things they may be struggling with.

Stay in the Loop

Remember to listen to your child with an open mind, and allow them to share what they’ve seen or experienced. Ask about your child’s friends and their opinions on things going on at school. Facilitating an open channel of communication can be a huge help to your relationship as your teen gets older. Asking open ended questions and accepting your child’s answer can encourage them to choose to come to you with their struggles and successes. Remember that your child is their own person, experiencing life in their own way, and being open to their mindset will strengthen your relationship.

Vaping Prevention at Your Child’s School

Check out the latest Power of Choice Middle School vaping campaign poster. Students will see these posted throughout their hallways and on television screens, reminding them that their health matters! Each material provides facts and information on the potentially harmful effects e-cigarettes can have on their growing bodies.

You can view the materials on our website here.

Middle school poster: Protect your breath, once choice at a time.

Funded in part by the Illinois Department of Human Services, Division of Substance Use Prevention and Recovery through a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration.

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