High-Performing Kids and Mental Wellness: The Tightrope Walk

We humans are good at finding patterns. This evolutionary benefit has kept us alive longer than the dinosaurs, but it’s not foolproof. Sometimes, these patterns can steer us wrong.  As parents, what we perceive to be good and healthy for our kids, might not be the reality. The team captain with straight-As could have an eating disorder. The class president with multiple scholarship offers might be questioning their sexuality. When it comes to identifying how well our kids are managing stress and dealing with substance use, sometimes we miss what is right in front of us.

Teens face an ever-creeping, constant pressure that the decisions they make in high school actively determine their path in life. Their problems might look small to adults, but from where they stand, the difference between low and high performance feels as if it could set them on an entirely different trajectory. The stress and anxiety teens feel about their future takes a toll on their minds and bodies.

How do we take some of the weight off the shoulders of high-performing teens?

Teens learn resilience when faced with difficult situations. In order to build this skill, teens need positive stress in their lives. For most youth, the stress of good grades and high performance as an athlete or musician is exactly the sort of positive stress that teaches effort, focus, determination, and teamwork. Stress becomes toxic when it is ongoing and without buffering. Adults act as buffers by being supportive, responsive, and caring to teens experiencing stressful circumstances. Ask yourself, why is your child’s high performance so important? Is it so they win or are the very best? Or is the priority that they develop esteem, work ethic, and resilience?

When walking the tightrope of encouraging high performance and supporting youth and their mental wellness, remember that most lessons are learned in the losses. We can hold teens to high standards all while demonstrating we care for them when they fall short of their goals.

5 Things You Can Do:

  • Talk to your teen about what is causing them stress. Let them know they can always come to you if things are feeling unmanageable to work through problems together.

  • Demonstrate your support and care when they fall short of their goals. Acknowledge both their hard work and their ability to do better next time.

  • Let teens foster an identity outside of performance. Praise them when they make an insightful comment, do something kind for another person, or creatively solve a problem on their own. Celebrate their effort, not just the outcome.

Examples of Buffering

A high performing teen is feeling daily pressure from a parent to excel in school and sports, from a coach to lead the team every game, from a teacher to score the highest on the test, and from social media to look a certain way.

Parent: “I’ve noticed you haven’t been yourself lately. This has been a really challenging month. What are some ways I can support you?”

Coach: “That was a tough loss. You showed some real grit in that game. You never gave up.”

Teacher: “I noticed you’ve been tired in class this week. Are you doing ok? I’m here to talk if you need some help.”

  • Set boundaries. Work with your teen to mutually prioritize habits that feed their physical and mental health. How much sleep is right for them? How is social media impacting their mental wellness?

  • Check out the Developmental Assets® Framework. Learn about the ways you can support, empower, set boundaries and expectations, encourage constructive use of time, while fostering your teens’ commitment to learning, positive values, social competencies, and positive identity.

Kat Barrow is a Community Prevention Specialist at Tri-County Mental Health Services in Kansas City, MO. She earned her Masters of Public Health from the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Kat is passionate about creative, inclusive approaches to improving community health and wellness.

7 Things to Consider As You Send Your Child Back to School

What a difficult time this is to be thinking about back to school!  Not only do you need to prepare your child for going to school, you also need to think about how to keep them safe and productive when they’re schooling from home (if they’re secondary students).  And then there’s helping them deal with the disappointment of school and extracurricular activities not being what they expect and want.

As you think through these issues, here are some things to consider: 

1. Show you care. Listen to your child’s concerns and complaints and then help your child see the positives.  Remind them that everyone is doing their best in a time when there aren’t many good options.  Try to demonstrate a positive attitude toward their learning option in front of your children.  When kids hear you be negative, it gives them permission to be critical as well and tends to lessen their ability to succeed.  Support the school’s guidelines to keep kids safe and encourage your child to follow them, even when they don’t want to.  If you have concerns about how things are being handled, speak with your child’s teacher, counselor or administrator in private.

2. Set expectations and clear guidelines for your child when they are learning from home.  Have a well-developed routine for them.  What time will they get up, have breakfast and be ready for online studies?  Set scheduled breaks, lunch and quitting times.  We all accomplish more when we work within a schedule.

3. Make sure to build in some type of exercise and/or outdoor activity into their day.  Not only does it help their physical health, it’s crucial to mental health as well.  Encourage your child to take a walk or do some other physical activity at some point during the day.  You can also join them and use the time to connect.

4. Pay careful attention to your home environment. Make sure that any alcohol and/or prescription medications are locked up.  Your child may be dealing with a lot of disappointment and may experiment with things they wouldn’t normally consider.

5. Set aside time in the evening to connect. Family meals are a great venue for this!  Now more than ever it’s important to check in with them about what they’re doing, thinking and feeling.  Watch for significant changes in sleep, eating habits, and exercise patterns.  Don’t hesitate to seek professional help if you are concerned about their well-being.  Your child’s school counselor is a great place to start!  He or she can guide you to other resources if you need them.

6. If a parent is unable to be home with your child during their at-home learning, communicate with them throughout the day when possible. Think about other people who may be able to help break up their day.  Is there a grandparent or other family member who could pop in, bring lunch, or call them?  How about a neighbor or trusted friend?  When kids know the adults in their life care about them and are empathetic to this particular time, it helps them keep a positive attitude.  Maybe some strengthened relationships will come out of this!

7. Help coach your child’s perspective. Last week I came across a great article about coaching our kids through disappointment during this time.  “We can give our kids one of two perspectives. That of victimhood: that they’ve lost things they’re entitled to, that they should remain outraged, and that they will be forever scarred by their current losses. Or that of empowerment: narratives of delayed gratification, of resiliency, of grieving and moving on, and of finding new meaning and new coping skills.”  We can’t control so many of the things going on around us, but we can control how we respond!  This can be a time of growth for all of us!  (You can find the full article here.)

Kendra Callaway is currently the Program Director for Liberty Alliance for Youth and is a retired school counselor from Liberty Public Schools. She enjoys watching and helping her 4 grandchildren learn to navigate the world.

The Results are In! New 2020 Data and Looking to the Future

Local Data on Substance Use Declines

The Missouri Student Survey is conducted on even-numbered years and tracks risky behaviors of students in grades 6-12 attending public and private schools in Missouri. The survey, conducted jointly by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Missouri Department of Mental Health, asks youth a variety of questions on health and safety issues. County summaries of the 2020 results are available to view here

From the summary view, the new data is uplifting. Youth across Clay, Platte and Ray Counties are using alcohol, tobacco, e-cigarettes, and marijuana at rates lower than the state average.  The past 30-day use rates of these substances is also lower than what was reported in 2018.  At Parent Up, we are excited to see this downward trend!  We can celebrate that our youth are using fewer substances and that our prevention programs are working to make a difference.

Substance Use Harms Young Brains and Can Lead to Addiction

On the other hand, we still have plenty of work to do to protect area youth.  A study from the National Center for Addiction and Substance Abuse found that 9 out of 10 people who are addicted to nicotine, alcohol or other drugs began using these substances in their teen years.  This statistic is backed by science and research that reveals the vulnerability of the adolescent brain to substance use.  Because the human brain is not fully developed until the mid-20s, vaping, drinking alcohol, using marijuana or misusing medications during the teen years can disrupt and damage brain development.  Substance use prior to age 18 is linked to an increased likelihood of brain damage, addiction, and mental illness such as depression or suicidal ideation.

Preventing the Disease of Addiction

Prevention science points to multiple strategies that prevent the early use of alcohol, nicotine, and other drugs.  Policies that reduce availability and marketing of substances to youth are important in reducing access to youth.  Strong community and family attitudes and expectations that discourage underage use are also proven to decrease the chances that a child will begin using alcohol, nicotine, marijuana or prescription drugs in the teen years.  Establishing strong relationships and connection between teens and adults, providing opportunities for healthy risk, and monitoring and supervision are also proven to decrease the likelihood that a child will engage in risky behaviors like substance use.  These strategies,especially when coupled together, will help ensure that youth substance use rates continue to decline.  Follow along this year at Parent Up as we work to ensure that parents and our community CARE, CONNECT, COMMUNICATE and pay CAREFUL attention to our kids so that we can delay the age of first use of alcohol and other drugs, and protect future generations from the devastation that comes from addiction!

What are We Teaching Our Kids?: How to be a positive role model when it comes to alcohol

“Role Modeling is one of the most powerful tools you have in your parenting tool belt to influence the direction of your children’s character, whatever their age.”

–The Center for Parenting Education

My nine year old is my little shadow.  She wants to be wherever I am, sit next to me at every meal, and raid my closet for her latest fashion creation.  As frustrating as it can be at times, I am happy to have my little shadow!  See, I also have a 13 year old who was socially distancing before it was cool.  The truth is that both my little shadow and my distant teen, like all kids, learn and mimic their surroundings.  

Well into adulthood, our kiddos closely observe us as we manage our relationships, work, our health, and more. They note how we handle stress and whether we treat others with respect, show patience, act generously, and overall practice what we preach. And they tuck all of this away to use as they navigate their own lives.

Our use of alcohol is no different. As parents, role modeling when it comes to alcohol consumption is key to protecting our children from the risks associated with underage drinking.

Some well-meaning parents believe that letting their children drink at home helps them develop an appropriate relationship with alcohol. Research suggests otherwise— in fact, adolescents who are allowed to drink at home drink more heavily outside of the home. In addition, adolescents whose parents have specific and strict rules against underage drinking (and also drink responsibly themselves) are less likely to drink heavily outside the home.

So whether you have a shadow, or you always live life 6 feet apart, how can you model responsible drinking as a parent? Here are some guidelines:

  • Explain to your child why alcohol is for adults only. Let them know their brain will continue to develop well into their twenties, so the legal age of 21 helps protect their health.  Communicate your strong stance against drinking before this age, and talk about your consequences for your child.
  • Be a role model. If you drink alcohol, be mindful of how much and why you drink and what messages you might be sending to your children. Do not involve your children in adult behaviors.  Restrict them from touching, sipping, mixing, or fetching alcohol for adults.  It’s always a good idea to have a sober caregiver or parent present.
  • Control the context.  As adults, we shouldn’t talk about drinking as a way to manage stress around kids — for example, “Today was terrible. I need a drink!”  Instead, we should model healthier ways to manage stress like exercising, practicing deep breathing, or talking things over with your partner.  We can put words to these actions and make the connection clear for our kids!  For example, “Whew, I had such a stressful day!  I’m going to go take a walk to calm down and unwind.”
  • What if you drank as a teen?  If you choose to share that you drank as a teen, be sure to admit that it was a mistake and give examples of negative experiences that resulted or could have resulted from it. If your child asks you this question, a great response is “I did have a drink when I was younger. However, we didn’t know as much as we do now about the risks of alcohol. If I had known then, I would have done things differently. This is why I am talking to you about it. I want you to be safe, healthy, and happy.”
  • Practice what you preach:  Never drive when you’ve been drinking or get into a vehicle with a driver who is impaired. You wouldn’t want your child to, so don’t do it yourself.  Designate a sober driver in advance if you plan to drink.
  • If you have alcohol in your home, be sure to secure it away from kids and teens. 

To learn more about alcohol and your health, visit the CDC’s FAQ page for alcohol. For more tips and tools for preventing underage drinking or talking to your child about alcohol and other drug use, check out our Parent Up Tools page! 

Tiffany (Van Sickle) is a parent of two amazing kiddos, and has been working to prevent youth substance use for 5 years.  She currently serves as the Program Director for the Park Hill Community Alliance for Youth (CAFY).

We Are Supposed to Feel: Parenting During COVID-19

This month, Sonya Richardson-Thomas, a Licensed Professional Counselor, gives practical tips and tools for parents as they work to extend grace and acceptance during the current COVID-19 Pandemic.

“Life is like a box of chocolates… You never know what you’re gonna get” -Forrest Gump

If nothing else, coronavirus has brought this idea home! We think we know what is coming next and then WHAM! Pandemic…not a word I’ve used before now. How about you?

When things are unpredictable and chaotic-feeling, we tend to have more anxious feelings than normal. That’s okay AND expected! We are not machines, we are SUPPOSED to feel. Our brains process FEELINGS before thinking. Always. So be gracious and accepting of yourself and your feelings. The good news about feelings: they come and they go.

Also, let’s extend that grace and acceptance to our kiddos’ feelings. We are most able to show we are accepting of their feelings by looking BENEATH the behaviors and asking ourselves where this behavior found its origin: worry, frustration, loss, anger, etc. All are valid feelings in this unique and open-ended historical moment.

Here are some PRACTICAL suggestions for parenting during this stressful season:

  • Connection before Correction: Hear the WHY and REGULATE the feeling, THEN correct the behavior. Your child will be able to listen to you, think, and correct their behavior better AFTER their strong emotions have subsided and they are calm again.
  • Soothing Touch and Soothing Words: Calming touch and calming words help kids become Regulated and ready to move towards finding solutions. Remember: THINKING comes after feelings. They won’t be able to process what you are saying about their behavior until they are able to calm themselves.
  • When parent/child conflict inevitably arises, here are some good questions to help your child problem solve:
    • What are your ideas/solutions?
    • How could this be different next time?
    • What is the NEXT best thing to do?

  • Breathe: The ONLY stress symptom we can control is breathing! Simply drop your breathing from your chest to your belly.  Belly breathing tells your brain that the threat is lessening and this will help you relax.
  • Move Your Feet: BEFORE the big feelings come, head outside and move OR carry books and boxes from one floor to the next …movement is a researched stress reliever!
  • Engage Your Senses: Take a minute to find 5 things you can see, 4 things you can hear, 3 things you can feel, 2 things you can smell and 1 thing you can taste. Very effective in relieving anxiety!
  • Be Real because this is Real! Resist the urge to minimize or “fix” feelings.
  • LOVE first, Always. Remember when it is so SO hard, this is not forever… Lead with Love!

Here is a printable and shareable cheat sheet to remind you of these Practical Parenting Tips That Lead With Love During Stressful Times:


Sonya Richardson-Thomas is a Licensed Professional Counselor practicing in Liberty, Missouri. She is an experienced therapist in many areas including child and family issues such as attachment, divorce, trauma, and developmental issues. She is also an experienced public speaker. For more tips on parenting through stressful times, follow her on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/srtfamilytherapy/.

4 Parenting Trends For 2020

New year, new trends! As we enter a new decade, here are some parenting trends and movements you might see in 2020.

Mental Health Transparency

Today’s kids are more stressed than ever. Data gathered in 2018 by the National Survey of Mental Health indicated that rates of anxiety and depression had increased in kids ages 6 to 17, from 5.4% in 2003 to 8.4% in 2011-2012. Unfortunately, this trend is also consistent across adults, with the American Psychological Association’s 2019 Stress in America survey showing that over three quarters of adults experienced symptoms of stress. 

However, with more and more parents and children feeling stressed these days, we’re also seeing less stigma about anxiety and more transparency on the topic of mental health. It’s important that parents and youth alike gain a better understanding that self-care isn’t selfish.  We are better parents when we take care of our own physical and mental health. We need to model good self-care for our kids.


Image source: CNN


Parents are working to foster empathy and compassion in their children. . As the world continues to break down stereotypes, we can expect to see a greater shift towards diversity and inclusivity. Toy makers, for example, have made strides in creating toys that showcase greater diversity. In 2019, Mattel introduced two new Barbie dolls with disabilities as well as a line of gender-neutral dolls.  How can we, as Parent Up parents, role model more kindness, listen better and have compassion for ideas that are different than our own?

Going Green 

In 2019, the world was introduced to Greta Thunberg, a 17 year-old activist whose efforts to fight climate change gained international recognition. Her activism has inspired youth and adults around the globe to take action to protect the environment. We can expect to see more families rally behind this cause in the upcoming year. Even the small changes will make a difference.  What can your family do to become more eco-friendly? Here are some ideas! 


Vaping Crackdown

Vaping continues to make news headlines as the dangerous trend continues to rise among youth. A report by the Center for Disease Control showed that the number of middle and high school students using e-cigarettes reached a whopping 5.3 million in 2019. On the positive side, policies have begun to emerge to curb the use by youth. 

In December 2019, the federal government passed Tobacco 21, prohibiting the sale of tobacco and nicotine products to anyone under the age of 21. Increasing the minimum age of purchase is an evidenced-based strategy to reduce youth tobacco use.  Visit our Vaping page to learn more about vaping and vaping-related illnesses.

Parent Up strives to equip parents with information and tools to foster healthy relationships with their children and keep them safe from all substance use. Check out our Tools page and blog for more information and resources.

Secrets Versus Privacy

With teenagers on their road to expanding independence, a parental grip must somewhat loosen. The balance between being present and involved, and allowing our kids space and freedom, can tip easily to one direction or the other. We wonder about asking too many questions or not enough. Maybe we need to push them harder or back off. Too many rules or not strict enough? We encourage them to share and then hear things that freak us out.

Parent Up continually encourages parents to be present and available, interested and deliberate, caring and considerate, invested and open with their kids. To understand the difference between secrets and privacy can help us navigate through this balancing act.

Let’s encourage kids to share their secrets, but promise to protect them with privacy.

Secrets often signal a problem, some harm, or an issue that needs to be aired out. Holding onto secrets is rarely healthy. Privacy is a privilege everyone deserves.

Encourage your kids to have few secrets, to not bury or hide things from you or anyone else. With the same hope for their health, promise them privacy. Privacy means their vulnerability will be protected. When they take a risk to share something, they can be certain their truth is safe with you.

No secrets, protected privacy.

Try one of these simple mantras to guide your relationship with your child:

  • We admit our mistakes, make it right, and move on.
  • Our family is a safe place.
  • Talking about it is always okay.
  • Truth, honesty, forgiveness, and love live here.

For more resources to start conversations with your children, build trust, and help them make smarter, safer decisions, visit our collection of online tools and resources.

6 Warning Signs Your Child Has Been Vaping

Vaping –or the use of e-cigarettes– is a dangerous trend that has been rising in popularity among youth. In fact, a 2019 report by the Center for Disease Control shows that the number of middle and high school students using e-cigarettes rose from 3.6 million in 2018 to a whopping 5.3 million in 2019.

6 Warning Signs To Look Out For

As a parent, here are a few warning signs that might indicate that your child has been vaping:

 1) Unfamiliar tech-looking devices

E-cigarette devices contain parts and cartridges that need to be exchanged and replaced. These parts may appear to look like USB drives or battery chargers.

2) Pleasant smell

What can make vaping more appealing to youth than traditional cigarettes are the sweet flavors available. If you catch faint aromas of bubble gum or watermelon, it might be a sign that someone is vaping nearby.

3) Increased secrecy and mood behaviors

Mood changes and feelings of irritability and anxiety may be signs of nicotine withdrawal. If you notice your child acting more irritable than usual, as well as being secretive and unwilling to answer questions, it may be another sign that your child has been vaping.

4) Increased thirst or nose bleeds

Vaping removes hydration from the skin of the mouth and throat, leaving a dry, flat palate. If you see your child increasing their liquid consumption (and urinating more), this may be a sign of vaping. Similarly to how it dries the mouth, vaping also dries the skin of the nose too. When the nose is too dry, it can bleed, which might be another clue.

5) Decreased caffeine use

The combination of vaping nicotine and drinking caffeine can cause anxiety and severe mood swings. Many vape users will decrease their caffeine intake to avoid these side effects.

6) Unfamiliar online purchases or packages

Vapes and e-juices are available for purchase online, so if there are unfamiliar charges on a card or odd-looking packages coming to your home, it’s time to ask questions.

Talking Points 

It’s important to note that while these may be indicators of vaping, they aren’t sure-fire indicators that your child has been using an e-cigarette. That’s why it’s important not to jump to conclusions, but rather to approach a conversation with your child with an open mind.

Here are some quick tips for discussing vaping with your child:

  • Start the conversation sooner than later– The discussion on vaping with your child will likely be ongoing so start the dialogue early on
  • Avoid criticism and encourage your child to be open with you– Listen to your child to understand their perspective things and invite them to ask questions 
  • Help them understand why vaping is harmful– Use facts to stress the seriousness of vaping
  • Teach them to say no– Identify possible scenarios where your child may be offered e-cigarettes, then help them practice how to respond

At Parent Up, it’s our mission to equip parents with online tools and resources to help prevent substance abuse of any kind by youth.

The talking tips listed above can also be applied to other conversations with your child to prevent underage use of other harmful substances such as alcohol, marijuana or other drugs.

For more stats, information, and advice on vaping, visit our Vaping page.

Start Young: 5 Ways to Talk To Your Elementary Aged Child About Alcohol

For parents of elementary aged children, the need to talk about avoiding alcohol and other drug use can feel like a long ways off. While it’s true that the pressure to drink with their friends, start using drugs, or hide substance-use behavior from parents may not be a daily struggle for 8-12 year olds, they are still exposed to drugs and alcohol and may form their opinions early.

Here are 5 ways to talk to your elementary-aged child about alcohol:

1- Explain how alcohol is bad for kids’ brains

 Tell kids their brains are growing every day in many different ways. When their brain takes in information from hearing words, reading books, or seeing neat things with their eyes, their brain processes it all, stores the good stuff, and grows bigger and bigger. Then explain that alcohol and other drugs slow that process down and stops their brain from growing bigger and smarter.

2- Use an analogy

 Use an analogy to further drive your message. Have them imagine they are building with Legos and someone pours sticky syrup all over their Lego creation. They would not be able to build as well as before. Alcohol is like sticky syrup that wrecks what young brains are starting to build.

3- Be wary of your behaviour

 Elementary-aged children watch and model themselves after their parents, so it’s important to be mindful of your behaviour when consuming alcohol. While we’re not suggesting that you hide drinks from your children or that you need to give up drinking altogether, we invite you to control the context in which your child is exposed to alcohol and other drugs.

Here are some quick tips on managing your child’s exposure to adult alcohol consumption:

  1. Do not involve your children in adult behaviors and restrict them from touching, sipping, fetching, or mixing alcohol.
  2. Make sure there are other non-alcoholic drinks offered to adults at mixed age parties or gatherings. Consider hosting or attending events where alcohol isn’t present.
  3. Be careful about how you talk about drinking around your kids. Avoid comments like  “Whew, I had a hard day at work. I really need a beer tonight.”

4- Maintain open communication

Explain why adults may drink alcohol but children may not; because even in small amounts, it is harmful to the development of their brains and bodies. Talk to your child about the dangers and side effects of alcohol. Explain that alcohol is different than food and other drinks. Let your child know that people who drink too much alcohol get sick and throw up. Explain that too much alcohol can make some people stressed, angry and violent. 

5- Address alcohol in advertising and media

Alcohol-related advertising can be found everywhere, especially in television, and it’s been proven to share a correlation with underage drinking among youth. When alcohol or other drugs is brought up on TV or you see a display out in the community, ask your child what they know and feel about alcohol and answer any questions they may have.

Starting the conversation with your child early will empower them to make smart and healthy decisions as they get older. Keeping an open dialogue will help you develop a closer relationship with your child which will make it easier to enforce rules later.

Visit our Talking Points page for more age-specific tips and downloadable guides on navigating the discussion on alcohol and other drugs.


8 Warning Signs That Your Child Has Been Drinking

Alcohol is the most commonly used and misused drug among youth in the United States.1 And according to a report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, there were approximately 10 million underage drinkers in 2010.2

As a parent, you want what’s best for your child, which is why it’s important to proactively prevent them from drinking. But how can you tell if your child has been drinking or experimenting with alcohol? Sometimes, it’s not always as obvious as you smelling booze on their clothing.

Warning Signs To Look Out For

Here are a few common changes in your kid’s physical appearance and behavior that may be warning signs that they have been drinking:

  1. Mood changes: flare-ups of temper, irritability, and defensiveness
  2. School problems: poor attendance, low grades, and/or recent disciplinary action
  3. Pushing boundaries: rebellion against family rules
  4. Friend group changes: switching friends and a reluctance to let you get to know the new friends
  5. A “nothing matters” attitude: sloppy appearance, a lack of involvement in former interests, and general low energy
  6. Alcohol presence: finding it in your child’s room or backpack or smelling alcohol on his or her breath
  7. Physical or mental problems: memory lapses, poor concentration, bloodshot eyes, lack of coordination, or slurred speech
  8. Secretiveness: reluctance to share their whereabouts

Although these signs may indicate a problem with alcohol or other substances, some also reflect normal growing pains, which is why it’s important not to jump to conclusions. However, if you notice several of these signs at the same time, if they occur suddenly, or if they are extreme in nature, it may be indicative of a drinking problem. 

What To Do If Your Child Has Been Drinking

Remain calm – While it may seem difficult in the moment to stay calm, it’s important not to immediately jump to conclusions or play the blame game. Let your child know that you are aware that they have been drinking, then take some time to settle down, to ease out of whatever shock, anger, or powerlessness you may be feeling.

Talk about what happened –  Listen to your kid, gathering information about their perspective of what happened, why, and what they think now. Through their own processing, your child can decide alcohol is bad for them on their own.

Help them understand why alcohol is harmful to them – Explain to your child the dangerous long-term effects of alcohol. Make it clear that you’re not just being irrational and emphasize your concern for their safety.

Identify steps for future prevention – Having reflected on the situation, it’s time to partner with your kid for the future. What consequences are necessary now and what can be put in place to break the pattern for next time? 

And Remember…

It’s important to remember that this is not a one-time discussion, but rather an ongoing conversation. Keep an eye on your child and check in with them regularly, because young people are more likely to drink if they think no one will notice. 

Parent Up is here to help. Check out our collection of online tools and resources for more facts on drinking, tips for starting a conversation with your child, and tips on how you can prevent underage drinking.

1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent and Reduce Underage Drinking. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2007.
2. https://www.addictioncenter.com/teenage-drug-abuse/underage-drinking/


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