There has been extensive study done on the development of the teenager's brain in the last twenty years and some of the findings that have come out of this research is that teenagers should not drink because the damage alcohol does to the adolescent brain could have life-long lasting effects.
These changes are most likely to occur in the brain's pre-frontal cortex, an area responsible for executive functioning: decision making, planning for the future, judgment, and controlling impulses. When teens drink:
- alcohol could disrupt development at a time when they're making important decisions about their lives (school, careers, relationships)
- alcohol can also affect how the brain disseminates information into long-term memory, a crucial element in the process of learning
- alcohol can affect visual-spatial functioning -- the ability to read distance properly or follow directions on a map
- boys in particular, can be affected in their ability to retain verbal information
- research suggests that teens who drink are more likely to be killed in accidents( in the USA 3 teens die every day due to drinking and driving), have trouble in school or with the law or take to using illicit drugs than teens who do not consume alcohol
So what can you do as a parent to create limits and boundaries and model a no drinking policy:
- Establish firm rules for your teen: create a no tolerance policy that includes clear consequences your teen can expect if he/she's caught drinking
- Set an example of moderation: follow the rules of dietary guidelines which suggests no more than one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men
- Talk about the truths of alcohol with your teen. Drinking can cause all kinds of health related issues, when drunk people slur their words, stumble and look ridiculous and make poor decisions by abandoning their judgement
- Encourage extracurricular activities: research has found that teens who are involved in volunteer activities, sports, music, drama or anything that helps them gain confidence and keeps them socially "busy" are less likely to be involved with alcohol
- Know who your teens friends are: you don't want your teen hanging out in homes where parents condone drinking at a young age and see no problem in allowing your teen a "drink or two"
- Always give your teen an "out" : if your teen is at a party where there is drinking tell him/her "I don't care where you are, who your with or even if you lied to get there, call me and I will come and get you, no questions asked!" It's better to keep your teen safe, than be sorry.