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Parenting Humor: How to Handle The Teen Water Bottle Obsession Epidemic

I can honestly say I don’t ever remember drinking a glass of water when I was growing up in the 1800s (at least that’s when my teens think I grew up). And I definitely never owned a water bottle. I’m sure I must have had water at some point, but it’s not ringing any bells. Of course, anyone who grew up in the 1800s is not going to remember lots of things, but I do remember drinking juice, milk, and soda, so I did get some form of hydration.

My three teenage kids are an entirely different story. If they go five minutes without a sip of water, they start panting like dogs, tongues extended and everything. Witnessing their overly dramatic reaction, you would think they had been stranded in the desert without water for three days.

Don’t even get me started on their water bottles, which is their main mode of hydrating themselves. That is plural because all three of them own about 500 different water bottles each.  And my kids aren’t the only ones toting around a water bottle wherever they go. All you have to do is look at any school lost and found pile and see a mountain of orphaned water bottles to know that we are all in this together.

The real issue for me is the attachment to the bottle. They are so attached to their bottle that they have seriously asked me to bring it to school on the rare occasion they forget it. It’s sort of like their phone or another appendage that seldom leaves their general vicinity. And just like with their phone, they start hyperventilating when they are separated from it for even a second.

How to wean your teen from their bottle (again)

I know it may seem like a long time ago, but do you remember weaning your baby from the bottle? It was a bit of a nightmare for us because my kids loved their bottle, or their “baba” as we lovingly referred to it. They never used a pacifier, probably because they attached to their baba instead. Well, I harkened back to those baby days to wean my teens from the water bottle, which I also refer to as their baba. Don’t get me wrong. I think it’s great that they love to drink water, but I think it’s more about needing the bottle that is an issue. So here’s my plan—feel free to use it, too.

Step 1: Introduce a real drinking glass

First, get your teen used to the idea of using an actual drinking glass instead of a bottle. Most teens are not able to break from the bottle without any type of transition period. So introduce the glass by placing it on the table next to them. It’s okay if it’s empty—just allow them to see that there is another option. When they give you the same confused expression as when you revealed you didn’t have internet as a kid, it’s okay. Just identify the object as a glass that has an option of being filled with water. You can leave it at that—you don’t want to overwhelm them.

Step 2: Offer a full glass of water

The next step is to place a full glass of water next to their water bottle. The idea is to help them associate seeing the water through the glass with drinking the water. If necessary, you can put a straw in the glass to aid with the transition from water bottle to glass. It’s okay if they don’t drink from it yet. But if they do, that’s great, too!

Step 3: Hide the water bottles

I know what you are thinking—“Whoa, hold on a second, that’s a bit drastic!”  But let’s face it. Carrying around a water bottle all day like another appendage is a practice that must be dealt with dramatically. After they have finished searching the house for the water bottle and start panting from lack of hydration, offer the full glass of refreshing water. It’s normal if they resist, but eventually, they will drink from that glass, I guarantee it.

I hope it goes as well for you as it did for me. Actually, I should clarify that: I hope it goes as well as can be expected for three teens weaning from their water bottle. Cheers!

Cheryl Maguire holds a Master of Counseling Psychology degree. She is married and is the mother of twins and a daughter. Her writing has been published in The New York Times, Parents Magazine, AARP, Healthline, Your Teen Magazine and many other publications. She is a professional member of ASJA. You can find her at Twitter @CherylMaguire05

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