When Should You Talk to Your Kids About Alcohol?

A new clinical report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) urges parents to talk to their kids about the dangers of drinking.
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Alcohol is the most abused substance among U.S. teens, and once kids enter high school, the usage rates increase dramatically. Approximately 79 percent of teens have tried alcohol by the time they enter 12th grade.

A new clinical report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has set out to pinpoint risk factors and prevent binge drinking with expert advice.

The report suggests that parents should begin talking to their kids about drinking at an early age — even as young as 9 years old. Although the threat of drinking may not be immediate, this is when children begin developing impressions about alcohol consumption—and you may be surprised by how early some adolescents are introduced to alcohol: Last year, one in nine 8th graders reported having been drunk at least one time.

Parents can use real life situations or scenarios that appear on TV in order to begin the conversation about the dangers associated with drinking. Teens who choose to drink tend to resort to binge drinking, making it even more crucial for parents to start an open dialogue.

Additionally, the AAP says that parents should not allow teenagers to drink in their own home, and parents should monitor their own drinking habits—as 80 percent of adolescents report that their parents are the number one influence when it comes to whether or not they drink. "Kids do listen to them ... even though they might pretend they don't," said Lorena M. Siqueira, M.D., M.S.P.H., FAAP, a member of the AAP's Committee on Substance Abuse, in a press release.

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn

When it comes to talking about alcohol, be straightforward. Betsy Brown Braun, author of "Just Tell Me What to Say," offers guidance on how to have a simple conversation.

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