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For thousands of teenagers across the nation, this week marks the start of their free life, leaving school and experiencing the real world.
Equally for thousands of parents this week brings a great deal of stress and anxiety as their children set off for schoolies week. As difficult as it can be to communicate with your broody teen, talking to him about setting boundaries, peer pressure, drugs and drinking is an absolute must.
Clinical Psychologist, Dr Stan Steindl, director of Morningside practice Psychology Consultants provides some useful tips to parents on dealing with schoolies week and the challenges that lie ahead.
“Open communication is key, talk about what to expect during schoolies week and try to set some boundaries of what is acceptable behaviour,” said Dr Steindl;
He comments that although it’s unrealistic to expect your teen to not drink, studies show that adolescents drink less and have fewer alcohol-related problems when their parents discipline them consistently and set clear expectations.
“It is also important to emphasise the negative effects of drugs and alcohol. One finding of a recent study showed that if we, as a society, “expect” teens to experiment with alcohol, they likely will,” he said.
Dr Steindl stresses the importance of being savvy. Knowledge is power and your teenager will love to think you are clueless.
“As a parent, you need to balance firmness without being a micro-manager. It’s important to not overreact if boundaries are crossed and mistakes are made”, he said.
According to the Australian Medical Association approximately 90 percent of people have tried alcohol by the age of 14, and most Australians have consumed a full serve of alcohol before the age of 16.
In 2004, people in their 20’s were more than twice as likely to have consumed alcohol by the age of 14 than were people in their 40’s and 50’s.  There are indications that early initiation to alcohol use is related to more frequent use, higher consumption levels and the development of alcohol-related harms in adulthood, including mental health and social problems.
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