Alcohol and the Teen Brain
The teen brain goes through a significant "wiring" period from the ages of 12-24. Research shows that alcohol use can harm this "wiring".
Alcohol acts like a computer virus in a teen brain that:
• Slows or shuts down brain activity
• Damages neuro-connections
• Negatively alters the brain’s pleasure-reward circuitry
• Decreases the ability to learn
• Hinders brain wiring that a teen needs to become a responsible, thoughtful adult.
SPECT images have shown that alcohol use affects the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus.
How to talk to your teen about alcohol:
Develop open and trusting communication. Open communication is your best form of protection when it comes to teen parenting.
Encourage conversation. Encourage your child to talk about whatever interests him or her.
Listen attentively, without interruption. Avoid interruptions like electronics, other siblings, etc. Maintain eye contact and use reflective listening skills.
Don’t judge. Be the student and let your teen be the teacher. Give your child a chance to teach you something new.
Ask open-ended questions. Encourage your teen to tell you how he or she thinks and feels about the issue you’re discussing. Avoid questions that have a simple “yes” or “no” answer.
Control your emotions. If you hear something you don’t like, try not to respond with anger. Instead, take a few deep breaths and acknowledge your feelings in a constructive way.
Don’t lecture. Make conversation a positive experience. If you show respect for your child’s viewpoint, he or she will be more likely to listen to and respect yours.