Chesterfield County works to help parents talk to teens about underage drinking

Chesterfield works to help parents talk to teens about drinking

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - Chesterfield County is working hard to help local parents with the tough conversations with teens about underage drinking.

The new campaign is “Talk. They Hear You."

“Saying nothing, speaks volumes,” said Ginger Dotter with Social Services. “Kids think well my parents must not really care about that because they’ve never shared this information with me. Or, they just mentioned it one time briefly and that was it.”

Dotter says 10% of 12-year-olds say they’ve tried alcohol. By 15, 50% say they have.

One tool the campaign is pushing is the “Talk they Hear you” app where you actually choose an avatar for you and your child. You can then practice these conversations before you have them with your real child.

Dotter says a a lot of people initially think the app "is a little cheesy, but once they start interacting through the app, then they find out, ‘oh this is really helpful.’”

The app gives parents a chance to practice responding and reacting.

It also helps with some suggested language that might help you continue talking about underage drinking.

“You want to make sure that your children know that you are aware that some children do engage in underage drinking," said Dotter. "However, most children do not. And it’s important to let them know what expectations and consequences are if they are using alcohol.”

Dotter suggests that parents have small conversations with their children over time instead of one big talk.

“They need to hear this information in small increments and with several more conversations,” said Dotter.

She also says to invite a two-way conversation.

“We want to ask our tweens and teens questions. And really sit there and listen to what they have to say,” said Dotter.

And finally, she says, be a good role model and remember that what your kids see from you will impact their own choices.

If it’s easier for you to read in a bullet point form, use this list of the Five Conversation Goals:

1. Show you disapprove of underage drinking.

2. Show you care about your child’s happiness and well-being.

3. Show you’re a good source of information about alcohol.

4. Show you’re paying attention and you’ll notice if your child drinks.

5. Build your child’s skills and strategies for avoiding underage drinking.

Click here for more tips and information about this campaign. Parents can also download the “Talk. They Hear You” mobile app to get tips and practice for this crucial conversation.

For more parenting support and classes, contact Mental Health Support Services Prevention Services, 804-768-7800 or visit Chesterfield County’s website.

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