Know! To Prevent Underage Drinking

Whether alcohol-focused talks with your tweens/teens have already begun or you are new to the scene, we have some tips and suggestions to rev up the conversation and keep it flowing. Remember, this is not a one-time discussion, but one that will need to be revisited throughout the teen years. Also, keep in mind that there is no one perfect scenario or situation for talking to your kids. Instead, there are many times when the opportunity may present itself, so it’s best to be armed with the facts and ready to talk.

Take advantage of everyday teachable moments: 

If you are in the car with your child and an alcohol advertisement comes on the radio; if you are in the grocery store together and you come across a beer display; if you are watching a movie with your child in which teens are using alcohol; if you hear or see a news story regarding teens in trouble for underage drinking or the unfortunate, but real tragedy of a teen being hurt or killed where alcohol was involved; or if you see a billboard advertisement that features young, beautiful people drinking, partying and having fun - use such occasions to bring up the topic of underage drinking.

The other option is to specifically set aside some time to talk. Take your son or daughter out for ice cream, go on a walk together, or simply find a quiet spot in your home where you and your child can speak privately.

Regardless of where your conversation takes place, here are some ideas to get it started. Choose the right one for you and your child.

  • I am curious to know what you have learned about alcohol and underage drinking at school? What do your friends think about alcohol? What do you think about drinking underage?
  • Do you know people your age who drink? What do you think about that? How has it impacted them? What questions or concerns do you have about alcohol?
  • What would you do if someone offered you a drink? What if they really pressured you? Have you ever been in a situation like that?
  • Why do you think young people drink? If you chose to drink, what would you stand to lose?

Be prepared, because you may hear something you don’t like. How you react will set the tone for future discussions. If you remain calm, listen attentively, show your interest in your child’s opinion, provide accurate information and share your view without lecturing, you will be building and strengthening the foundation of trust and open communication between you and your child.

April 21st is PowerTalk 21®, a national day to start talking to stop underage drinking (an initiative of MADD®). Know! encourages parents and caregivers nationwide to use this as yet another great opportunity to talk. 

Sources: Drug Free Action Alliance (DFAA), Know! Workbook. DFAA’s Parents Who Host, Lose The Most, Don’t be a party to teenage drinking. Mothers Against Drunk Driving, PowerTalk 21.