The Solution: Bonding
Bonding is a feeling of being loved, connected to and valued by others. Research indicates that children are less likely to drink when their parents are involved in their lives and when children and parents feel close to each other. Family conflict and lack of bonding increase the risk of drinking. 6
1. Create a positive, loving home environment
To increase family bonding: Think of your child's feelings as an emotional bank account. Each positive thing you say is like a deposit. Each negative comment is a withdrawal. To keep from bankrupting your child's emotional account and damaging the relationship, you need to deposit more positives than negatives.
- Be kind and respectful of each other.
- Do fun activities together on a regular basis.
- Eat dinner together; have pleasant conversation. Research shows teens who regularly eat as a family (at least five times per week) are 33 percent less likely to use alcohol. 7
2. Have daily positive interaction
- Take time daily to talk with your children about their interests and activities. Get to know your kids by asking about their lives, hopes, fears and concerns. Stay involved with their education. Kids who make an effort to get good grades and are involved in school activities are far less likely to drink.
- Notice and compliment the good in your child. Try to maintain at least a 4-to-1 ratio of positive comments to negative ones.
- In correcting behavior or giving consequences, make sure your child knows that he or she is still loved.
3. Notice your child's emotional well-being
- Help your children become competent and involved in worthwhile activities. 8 Encourage them to cultivate a positive, optimistic attitude.
- Watch for signs of excess stress or depression. These can lead to teen drinking. Help them cope in healthy ways: music, exercise, talking with a counselor, friend, or doctor, etc.
- Take time to listen with empathy to your kids' concerns. Try to spend at least 15 minutes a day of one-on-one time. 9 Repeating a phrase or two back to a child as they talk lets them know they were heard.