Your relationship with your child

A close and supportive relationship with your adolescent does not guarantee that they will not misuse alcohol, but it does reduce the likelihood. It also influences how effective your efforts are in protecting them from alcohol misuse and will increase the likelihood that they will seek help from you if they are faced with an issue regarding alcohol.

There are a number of things you can do to establish and maintain a good relationship with your adolescent, such as:

  • Support them in pursuing their interests and in dealing with problems
  • Show an interest and be involved in their life
  • Work to create open communication between yourself and your adolescent
  • Cultivate their trust by being consistent in following through on promises and enforcing rules
  • Regularly demonstrate that you care about them
  • Regularly tell them that you love them

Support your adolescent in dealing with problems and stress

Support your adolescent in dealing with problems and coping with disappointment. Encourage them to discuss their problems and concerns with you. Give them a chance to solve their own problems, as this will help them build self-esteem, and encourage them to accept the consequences of their choices. Admit if you don't have all the answers, as this will encourage their respect.

Encourage your adolescent to use healthy approaches for dealing with stress, like exercise, music or talking over problems. Monitor them for signs of high stress and mental health problems such as anxiety or depression, as adolescents with these problems are at an increased risk of alcohol misuse.

Help your adolescent feel good about themselves

There are a number of ways you can help your adolescent to feel good about themselves:

  • Ensure that your positive comments outweigh your negative comments when you talk to them
  • Praise them for good behaviour
  • Praise them for their efforts as well as their achievements
  • Do not tease them in a way that could be perceived as hurtful
  • Avoid actions and statements that they are likely to interpret as rejection

Be involved in your adolescent’s life

Your adolescent is less likely to misuse alcohol if you are involved in their life in a positive way. Spending time with your adolescent facilitates communication between the two of you. Use the following strategies:

  • Regularly spend one-on-one time giving them your undivided attention
  • Try establishing a regular weekly routine for doing something special with your adolescent
  • Find ways for your adolescent to be involved in family life, such as doing chores or caring for younger brothers or sisters
  • Engage in activities together as a family on a regular basis
  • Try to include your adolescent’s friends in family activities

Establish and maintain good communication with your adolescent

Good communication between you and your adolescent can reduce the risk of them misusing alcohol. Talk regularly with your adolescent one-on-one. Also try to eat dinner together as a family to facilitate communication. Ask your adolescent about topics that interest them and listen to them when they talk. Encourage them to express their opinions during everyday conversations.

Be aware that adolescents are often reluctant to talk about sensitive issues such as alcohol. Do not make all one-on-one time with your adolescent a time for serious discussion, as they may begin to avoid these situations. Avoid interrogating them, as this may cause them to be less open with you. Ask open-ended questions rather than ones that have simple “yes” or “no” answers. If you hear something you don’t like when talking to your adolescent, try not to respond with anger.

Be prepared to seek help to improve your parenting

Remember that it can be hard to be a parent. Do not hesitate to seek advice if you have difficulties with parenting. You should obtain advice from professional sources if you feel it would benefit your relationship or your communication with your adolescent.