December 13, 2018

Parent Tips for Holiday Parties

Did you know that many kids (as young as 11!) experiment with alcohol for the first time around the holidays?
Due to placement of drinks, lack of supervision, and other factors it can be easy for them to grab an alcoholic beverage at a holiday party, intentionally or by accident.Here are a few tips from Healthy Lincoln County on how parents can prevent their kids from experimenting with alcohol during the holidays:

Be clear with your expectations: If you are heading to a party with alcohol, or hosting one at your house, let your child know that although some adults may be drinking alcohol, they are still not allowed to consume any alcoholic beverages.
- Make sure there are non-alcoholic beverage choices: Check in with the host of the party, and see what non-alcoholic beverages will be served.

Hosting the party? Let your child see that you are including non-alcoholic beverages and plenty of food, and that you are making sure everyone has a safe ride home.
- Make sure that the non-alcoholic beverages are in a separate location from the alcohol. Keeping them separated helps reduce the likelihood that an alcoholic beverage will be taken intentionally or by mistake.

Sending your child to a party with friends? Establish a friendly relationship with their parents, and check in with them to make sure that there will be non-alcoholic beverages, and that a responsible adult will be in charge of the event.
- Unsure how to start the conversation with the host? Ask if there is anything you can help with, such as offering to bring non-alcoholic beverages that the kids can enjoy to the party. This conversation starter will allow you to ask more questions about how the party will be structured.

Use awkward party moments as opportunities to discuss substance use: If your child observes a relative or family friend intoxicated at a holiday party, use the scenario as an opportunity to talk about substance use.
- Talk about the behavior, don't ignore it. If they see that their family member had too much to drink, on the ride home bring this up conversationally. You could say something like, "That party was a lot of fun, but I noticed that your Aunt had too much to drink. That affected the choices she made, did you notice that too?" This can be your opening to talk about how alcohol impairs our ability to make healthy choices and influences our behavior.
- Send the right message when discussing other's substance use. Avoid making jokes with your child that involve drugs or intoxication, or telling humorous stories about friends or relatives who drank too much. Showing acceptance or making light of these behaviors can send the wrong message.
- Keep the conversation judgement free. When discussing someone's substance use try not to pass judgement on a relative or family friend. Speak objectively about their intoxication, and keep the conversation focused on how their choices and behavior was affected by alcohol.

Always remember, you are the biggest influence in your child's life. Talking to them early and often about substance use is the best tool for prevention. Have a safe and happy holiday season!

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