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May your holidays be bright, and your teen merry

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May your holidays be bright, and your teen merry

May your holidays be bright, and your teen merry

Have a teen at home for the holidays?
Take time to reconnect, make them feel included, and talk about partying.

Danielle Cochran, Drug/Alcohol Trends Education Coordinator for the Cottonwood, Idaho, Police Department, delivers alcohol prevention education to local schools and regularly listens to teens talk about their experiences. Here are a few of her tips for having a fun and safe holiday with your tween or teen.

Be engaged with your kids, and respect that they’re getting older. “During the holidays, teens often feel like they’re still being treated like little kids, so they get bored and leave,” Danielle says. “Do more adult-type things with them, and include them in adult conversations.”

Remember to welcome your tween or teen into the kitchen and include them in other holiday preparations. Even though it’s often easier to do things yourself, let your child help. “They can get groceries with you, you can show them how to cook dinner, or they can even shovel snow,” says Danielle. Be on the lookout for ways to have them participate—it’s a great way for teens to feel included.

Also, be sure to plan some quiet time together. “When you’re preparing for the holidays, you tend to get really busy,” Danielle finds. “Spend time with them every day so they don’t feel lost. Or find a way to work their favorite activities into your day.”

Once the holidays are over and things quiet down, tweens and teens will undoubtedly catch cabin fever. There’s a chance they’ll be exposed to alcohol while at parties or hanging out with friends, so communication is key during this time.

Talk to your child about alcohol and peer pressure. “If your child hasn’t yet been exposed to drugs or alcohol, talk to them now, before they run into it, so they’ll know what to expect,” Danielle advises. “You’ll want to explain the many risks of alcohol and the legal trouble they can get into, and discuss peer pressure.”

“Make sure they know that they’ll be okay [socially] even if they don’t drink,” explains Danielle. “Suggest alternatives, like drinking soda instead.” Also, help your teen plan other non-alcoholic festivities with friends, like ice skating, or cookie decorating, or movie nights.

Tell your child to never drive if they have been drinking, and urge them to call you for help—no matter what. Before they go out, Danielle suggests saying something like, “I expect you not to drink but, if you do, I’ll still love you. Please call me to come get you and keep you safe before you do something you regret.”

Have college-aged teens home for the holidays?
“This is a little harder, since they’re close to the legal age and act as adults while they’re at college,” observes Danielle. “When they come home, you need to explain that they’re still underage, and that there will be consequences if they drink. Obviously, try to take an adult approach and, again, reinforce that there are many alternatives to drinking.”

Book with insides cut out to hide a flask
Flask in a Book, available at Hot Topic. Description reads: “The Good Book” for the bad girl – with a hidden flask inside! Just add spirits!

And always—no matter the time of year, advises Danielle, recognize that kids may hide things, and know what to look for. She cites:

  • stash containers that look like something else—soda cans that have  screw-top lids and are hollow inside; books with the insides cut out; and even tampon flasks, shaped and packaged like real tampons. “There are so many types of these stash containers,” says Danielle. “They’re usually available anywhere that sells novelty items, like Hot Topic.”
  • regular flasks hidden in clothing.
  • alcohol that’s hidden in plain sight, thanks to current alcohol branding trends. “A lot of alcohols look like sodas,” so check labels carefully, warns Danielle. One craft beer, Not Your Father’s Root Beer, fools some parents who only notice the large words “Root Beer” on the label.

Want to know more? Learn the common signs of underage drinking and what you can do to help prevent your child from drinking alcohol underage.

Happy holidays!

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