How to talk with your teen

By Laura Ann Sills - email

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - For the second time in just weeks, a high school student, visiting Panama City Beach, died after falling from a hotel balcony.

Spring Break, prom, and senior trips are right around the corner.  Giving your young adult freedom and keeping them safe can be a hard job.

Your child is packed and ready to go on the trip of his or her life - Spring Break.  But, have you talked about boundaries?  Psychologist Dr. Albert Eaton explained to News Leader Nine, "The real time to address communication issues is long before you let them go anywhere on spring break."

But, the doctor says it's never too late to start talking.  Patience is the key because it is not going to be easy.  "Try not to be accusatory. Do not assume they are going to do something bad, because they are going to be defensive," advices Dr. Eaton.

Instead, ask how they plan to manage different situations.  And, stay away from words like bad or dumb- even if that is what you think of their actions.

Dr. Eaton said, "They look like adults when they are in high school and college but their brains are not fully formed. The problem is the part of their brain that is not yet fully formed is the part that helps them make good decisions."

When alcohol is added in the mix, decision making gets even harder.  Police say alcohol was involved in the deaths of two adolescents in Panama City Beach, FL this year.

Dr. Eaton says open communication should begin at birth, "It is that kind of foundation that allows you to talk about sex, drugs, peers and all those kinds of things that are hot topics for people."

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