The Power of Choice – Middle School Edition
December 2023, Issue 2
There are risks involved with drinking underage
The safety and wellbeing of our youth is a huge priority for all parents. Setting curfews, monitoring screen time, and making sure they eat their vegetables are all ways that we keep our kids safe. Encouraging your child to choose to stay alcohol-free is another way to protect young people. Arming them with the knowlege and confidence to forge their own path is a great way to prepare your middle schooler for situations that could arise in the future. Having conversations about the risks involved with underage drinking early on can help your child be prepared to make a safe decision in the moment. Help protect your child’s physical and mental health, as well as their opportunities by finding moments to have open conversations.
Protect Their Physical Health
There are many factors that can affect how drinking will impact one’s physical health. At a young age, alcohol can affect brain development and the ability to learn. Your brain is still developing until age 25, and alcohol use in the formative years can impact this process. The brain is also more primed for addiction at a younger age, and drinking can become a learned behavior if it is introduced underage. Genetics also play a huge role in how one interacts with an addictive substance, and young people often don’t know these risk factors and their family history. Have conversations with your child about these topics, and remind them that by choosing to not drink, they are avoiding these potential complications. Remind your child that they have the power to control whether or not they have the chance of encountering any of these risk factors, and that they are worthy of a healthy mind and body.
Protect Their Mental Health
Some students may already be struggling with concerns about mental health. Some may not be and would like to keep it that way! Whether these concerns are situational or chronic, they can impact a child’s experience at school and personally. Alcohol consumption may ease mental health distress, but it’s important that we remind our young people that there are resources available to help in a constructive way. When a young person uses alcohol to ease their anxiety or stress, they never develop the positive coping skills they’ll need throughout life. At home, parents can remind their children that they are available as a support system, and are able to lend a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on when needed. This can help remind a young person that they and their mental health are valued and worth being cared for.
Be a Good Listener
Remember to listen to your child with an open mind, and allow them to share what they’ve seen or experienced. As kids get older, they are paying attention to how you respond to them. They are looking for support as they explore their world in a more independent way. If they sense judgment, they may not feel as comfortable coming to you with these more sensitive conversations. It’s important to create a space for your child to feel safe to ask questions and gain more knowledge as they are getting older.
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.
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.