Talk to your teens

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mum and teenage daughter talking
Talking to your teenage son or daughter isn't the easiest thing in the world. On the one hand you want to find out what they're up to and feel that they can come and talk to you about anything. On the other hand you're watching them become a young adult and maybe feel that they're growing up too quickly.

What does your teen know already?

You'll probably be amazed by how much your teenager has already picked up from their mates and TV about sex, drugs and alcohol. Find out what they do and don't know, fill in the gaps and put them right on anything untrue they may have heard.

Be upfront and honest

Bring up your concerns about alcohol, underage sex or drugs in everyday conversation. Soaps, adverts, TV programmes, newspapers and magazines are great starter points for conversations. A car journey is another great way to have an intimate chat. They're trapped with you in the car, so can't get away!

Are they worried too?

This may be the first time they've been to a proper teenage party with girls and boys and they could be feeling quite nervous. Ask what they'd do if they were offered alcohol or drugs, or if someone wanted to have sex with them. Talk through the best way for them to react.

They have to take responsibility

We can't wrap our teenagers in cotton wool. They do have to start to find their way in the world, and socialising is an important part of that. Explain that they will come across situations where they will be tempted by drugs, alcohol or underage sex. Tell them how you feel about this and spell out that they have to live with the consequences of their actions. That it's their responsibility and their choice. Tell them it's fine to say no and not to be taken in by friends who may show off but aren't actually doing what they say they are.

Talk about the risks

If you haven't already done so, talk about the risks of alcohol, unwanted sex, pregnancy or catching a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Explain why, if they were to have sex that they must use a condom to protect against pregnancy and STI's. Explain about the dangers of drugs too, of accidental overdoses and bad 'trips'.

- Next: Read on for help talking about sex and alcohol

Continued below...

More help and advice

- 10 ways alcohol can affect your child
- Read one mum's story of when her teenage daughter got pregnant

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