I Caught My Kid with Alcohol: What do I do Now?
Give everyone their space before having a talkYou are shocked and your sympathetic nervous system is charging. Your child is surprised, caught off guard, and probably experiencing some mix of anger, guilt, shame, and confusion. Your child's sympathetic nervous system is also engaged. Everyone has adrenaline, cortisol, and other action-hormones surging through their veins. Parents need to understand that this moment is not the moment to have a rational conversation, especially if your child is intoxicated. Use the time and space to carefully plan out how you want to have this conversation, what kind of parent you want to be for this learning opportunity, and the consequences which will be set.
Give your child the platformIt is easy for parents to say I don't want to hear it, I don't care!. Doing so is harmful for children. This is a learning opportunity to discover the fault in your child's decision making and help them evaluate how they could have acted differently or recognize their problematic behaviors. Give your child time to share what happened, why they chose to drank, and state their case.
Give them a fair and just consequenceDid they get inebriated and destroy the house or did they have one beer with friends as an experiment? No alcohol is a solid rule, despite the amount of alcohol consumed. A parent's trust when violated is a parent's trust which will take time to regain. Set out a fair and just consequence with tangible steps for a child to make amends by demonstrating better behavior. Validate your child by informing them that consequences are what happens when rules are broken. Emphasize repeatedly that they are loved, that mistakes happen, but that it takes work and discipline to remedy them. Make sure to end with love and understanding.
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