Skip to content

    Health & Parenting

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Parents Can Curb Teen Drinking

    Bonding, Monitoring, Meeting Friends Keep Kids Away From Alcohol
    By
    WebMD Health News

    Feb. 24, 2003 -- Yell at a kid, ground him, search his room -- but that's not the way to prevent teen drinking. What works, say experts, is developing a warm bond with your child, setting rules, monitoring activities, meeting friends and their parents -- and starting all this early on, before the teen years ever begin.

    It's a big, big issue, since nationwide surveys show that 26% of 8th graders and 60% of all high school kids drink. What's considered binge drinking -- having five or more drinks on any one occasion -- ranges from 21% among 9th graders to as much as 42% among 12th graders, reports lead researcher Kenneth H. Beck, PhD, professor of health behavior at the University of Maryland in College Park.

    His study appears in this March issue of the American Journal of Health Behavior.

    Parents play a critical role in keeping kids away from alcohol, Beck says. Joseph Califano, president of the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University, agrees.

    "The surveys we've done, of teens and parents, show that parental engagement is critical," Califano says. "Parents have the greatest influence on kids. The more often kids have dinner with their parents, the less likely they are to drink, smoke, use drugs. We've done focus groups of kids, and it's interesting -- as often as kids complain about curfews, they say, 'it does show my parents care about me.'"

    In his study, Beck reports the survey results of 444 Washington-area teens between 12 and 17 years old. All the teens were asked whether parents or guardians monitored their activities, whether they drank alcohol, whether they went to parties and other activities that involved alcohol, if they had ever talked with their parents about alcohol -- and whether their parents' opinions about alcohol mattered to them.

    When parents monitored the teen's whereabouts, they were less likely to put themselves in alcohol-drinking situations or even to experiment with alcohol. "They're less likely to go to parties and other places where kids were drinking," he tells WebMD.

    Beck calls it "hands-on parenting," and puts it in the context of parenting strategies -- the classic authoritative versus authoritarian styles.

    1 | 2 | 3

    Today on WebMD

    Girl holding up card with BMI written
    Is your child at a healthy weight?
    toddler climbing
    What happens in your child’s second year.
     
    father and son with laundry basket
    Get your kids to help around the house.
    boy frowning at brocolli
    Tips for dealing with mealtime mayhem
     
    mother and daughter talking
    Tool
    child brushing his teeth
    Slideshow
     
    Sipping hot tea
    Slideshow
    Young woman holding lip at dentists office
    Video
     
    Which Vaccines Do Adults Need
    Article
    rl with friends
    fitSlideshow
     
    tissue box
    Quiz
    Child with adhd
    Slideshow