There are ways you can help prevent your children from drinking underage. Giving your child the tools and support they need when situations arise is one of the best things you can do as they’re growing up.
As a responsible parent, you are the best resource your child has to avoid underage drinking. Talking with your kids early and often will help them make responsible choices if they encounter alcohol.
Exposure and first experiences are starting earlier and earlier. A staggering fact is that 1-in-3 kids have tried alcohol before age 8. It’s mind blowing when you think of third and fourth graders drinking alcohol.
But the truth is 7 out of 10 parents don’t keep their alcohol secure. Even if you keep the alcohol in your home secure, the same may not be the case at the homes of your kids’ friends. An innocent play date can quickly escalate.
Many parents think that alcohol is the least of their worries with their kids, but underage drinking – even just a sip or on special occasions – is illegal and often opens the door to other risky behaviors.
Parents can serve as responsible role models for their children, using everyday opportunities and circumstances to discuss the risks and consequences of underage drinking. I shared some helpful tips for how to talk to your kids about underage drinking here. (LINK TO PREVIOUS BLOG POST)
We recently had a conversation about alcohol with our 11-year-old. It happened while we were at a college football game.
He actually brought up the topic when we passed by some students that were tailgating. It started innocently enough. He asked if the kids were old enough to be drinking.
The conversation organically evolved into how he would respond if he was offered alcohol. His response to us was, “No way! I know you guys would kill me if you ever found out!” Then, he said, “Besides, I see how it makes you act and I don’t want to be like that.”
Ways to Prevent Underage Drinking
- Agree to family rules about drinking. Make sure your child knows that you have a zero-tolerance policy in your family. Ask your child to make a commitment to abstinence and make it clear what will happen if your rules are violated.
- Create a code word. Come up with a code word between you and your child that means “come get me immediately”. This helps give your child a way out of a situation that they are uncomfortable with. When the parent receives this text, they can call or text their child that there is a situation at home and they are needed right away.
- Role play. Help your child come up with responses they can give if they encounter peer pressure to drink. Some responses include:
- “I can’t. My parents will ground me forever and I won’t be allowed to go [to an upcoming event].”
- “I have to stay clean for [sports/activities].”
- “No, thanks. I don’t want to risk it. I heard you can lose your driver’s license.”
- Keep kids active. Help them find ways to have fun without alcohol. Sports and extracurricular activities are a great way to keep kids from being bored. Busy kids don’t have time for underage drinking.
- Be involved in your child’s life. Doing things with your kids makes it easy for kids to share information about their lives. It gives you an opportunity to connect and stay informed about what’s going on when you’re not around.
The most important thing to remember when it comes to underage drinking is you are your child’s best resource. Be a good role model and set an example that they can follow. You are their parent, not their friend. Be clear with your expectations and provide opportunities for open conversations. Learn more about talking with your kids about underage drinking here.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.