Establish family rules

Developing general family rules

Having clear family rules, including those not specific to alcohol, is important in protecting your adolescent from alcohol misuse. When formulating rules and consequences for your adolescent, try to support their growing independence, while setting appropriate limits, and use positive reinforcement where possible. Involve your adolescent in developing family rules for them to follow. Once established, make sure the family is clear on exactly what the rules are and that each member understands them. Be prepared to negotiate on rules regarding minor matters, but do not change the family rules or consequences without first discussing it with your adolescent. Review rules as your adolescent shows more maturity and responsibility.

Parents should support each other regarding family rules and present a united front in enforcing them. Make sure your adolescent understands that family rules are to be maintained when they are away from the family home and that you expect them to make wise choices based on family rules.

Rules about alcohol

Rules about alcohol are important in protecting your adolescent from alcohol misuse. Establish these rules for your adolescent before they are exposed to situations involving alcohol. Establish rules regarding alcohol for when your adolescent is at home unsupervised. Tell them that any alcohol stored in the family home is strictly off-limits to them and their friends. Make sure they know that the rules about alcohol are a protective measure and not just a restriction on their freedom.

Consequences for when rules are broken

Establish realistic consequences for when family rules are broken. These consequences should be harsh enough to be a deterrent, but not so harsh that they may damage your relationship with your adolescent should they be imposed. Try to involve your adolescent in the development of consequences and make sure they are very clear about what these consequences are.

Enforce established consequences consistently every time that family rules are broken. When enforcing established consequences, calmly explain to your adolescent why their behaviour has resulted in that consequence and make sure that they know that they are loved. Seek help with parenting if your adolescent continues to break rules regarding alcohol.