With the Junior Cert results due out soon, you may already be getting anxious about how your teenager will celebrate their results. Here, Sheila O’Malley from Practical Parenting, has some useful and practical tips for parents on Helping your Teenager Celebrate Their Junior Cert Results Safely, so you can all enjoy the occasion.
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In the lead-up to the Junior Cert results, the newspapers will highlight again the problem of underage drinking. Irish teenagers are one of the highest binge drinkers in Europe. Binge drinking can directly cause accidents and injury as well as depression, anxiety, suicide and attempted suicide.
Alcohol consumption has risen 48% in the past ten years. The average age for teens to start drinking is 14 to 15, three years younger than it was thirty years ago.
I was surprised by my daughter’s comment to a relative, with regard to her plans. She said her friends were not keen to go out that night as you would end up ‘taking care’ of someone you knew who had over indulged. She remarked that it was a pity the school did not take the students away for the night as some schools do. These schools organise an overnight away for the students; maybe Glendalough or elsewhere for fun hiking followed by an overnight in the Youth Hostel with classmates and teachers.
What Can You Do As a Parent?
Helping your teenager to say No
According to the Gardai at Donnybrook Station, a teen in trouble will often remark that they found it hard to say no to the peer pressure that builds up before the day.
Your Junior Cert student may be looking for an excuse to say No; or for you to provide an attractive alternative, so provide one. The Junior Cert night is about celebrating your son or daughter and their achievements, and a meal out with family may be an alternative.
Is there something they would like to do, maybe this is the time to suggest it.
Monitor Alcohol & Set rules
90% of people have alcohol in their homes but parents are not monitoring alcohol levels. Be sure it is not you who provide the first drink. Vodka is often used to lace the mineral in the handbag. Also, if there’s alcoholism in the family, your teen is more at risk.
According to independent research carried out by Behaviour & Attitudes for Drinkaware, it found that parents are the biggest influence on young people’s decisions around alcohol and 9 out of 10 Junior cert students want to learn how to stay safe and alcohol free! So despite what you think, your opinion does count.
- Talk to older siblings and ensure they do not offer to buy alcohol for the younger teen.
- Explain clearly your feelings about the night – you may be surprised by how much your values and attitudes count with your child.
- You should both be fully aware of your rules in relation to alcohol. Explain clearly the consequences for breaking the rules.
- Drinking at 15 makes you 4 times more likely to become an alcoholic, so explain to them the dangers and risks of drinking so young.
- Finally, set a good example and model responsible behaviour around alcohol.
If they go to a disco
Check out that the event they are going to is age appropriate. Some teens may carry false ID cards to gain access to over 18 clubs.
Some venues tend to be very popular, so ensure they have the required prebooked ticket. Much trouble arises from drunk teens with nowhere to go.
Drop your teen as close as possible to the venue at the start time and collect at the time the disco ends. Be clear about these arrangements and the consequences of not sticking to them!
Talk to the other parents
Communicate with other parents about your teenagers plans. Each teen tells you ‘everyone else is allowed’ until you talk to the other parents and discover that that is not the case.
It’s important to validate arrangements with other parents.
Monitor what they are taking out
Don’t give your teen too much money if they are heading out celebrating, as it can used to purchase alcohol.
Be aware of what is in the handbag, a small mouthwash bottle may be used to disguise the smell of alcohol.
Foster positive self esteem in your teenager
A teenager with positive self esteem is less likely to misuse alcohol or drugs. Sporting activities and clubs occupy them and build a solid sense of themselves.
Empower your child to make good and informed choices.
Tips to keep your teenager safe on Junior Cert night
On the night itself, if your child is heading out celebrating with their friends, spend some time with them beforehand. You can still offer an alternative at this stage if you think they might prefer not to go out.
And let them know, that if at any point during the night, they wish to come home early, you will come collect them.
- Contact Sheila O’Malley at Practical Parenting which offers support and training to Parents. She facilitates many corporate programs and delivers talks around personal and family wellbeing.
Have you any tips for other parents on teens and exam celebrations? Share them in the comments below