Friday, March 15, 2019

Three Ways to Help Kids Say No to Underage Drinking

This post is sponsored by Responsibility.org as part of their Ask.Listen.Learn. campaign, encouraging families to talk early, talk often, and be healthy. All the opinions are my own because no one is the boss of me. I'm very proud to be part of their team again his year. 

My three kids tend to roll their eyes at me and my desire to talk about everything from too much screen time, the value of a good night’s sleep, managing stress, to saying no to drugs and alcohol. But I do it anyway because that’s what moms must do. 

When it comes to talking about underage drinking, there are three things I try to keep in mind:

1. Establish Expectations
We have lots of little talks about stuff, rather than long sit-downs, which my kids find annoying and don’t really want to engage in. Little talks do something meaningful, though. They establish with total clarity my expectations around their behavior. Kids who clearly understand parental expectations about drug and alcohol use are less likely to engage in underage drinking.

2. Talk About the Why Behind the Rule
When I talk about my expectations, I’m careful to explain the reasoning behind how I got there. They know that my husband and I drink and they very reasonably want to know why its safe and acceptable for us, but not for them. The primary factors that drive my expectations around underage drinking are brain development (alcohol effects kids differently than adults), the law (it is illegal for kids to drink), and the negative consequences correlated with underage drinking (injuries, assaults, problems in school, increased mental health risks, etc.). When they understand why I don’t want them to drink and that my opinions are based on evidence, they’re more likely to understand and respect those expectations.

3. Work on Refusal Skills

Ask. Listen. Learn. has some great resources for talking to your kids about underage drinking, including an infographic below that provides ten ways for kids to say no. It’s beneficial to teach and practice refusal skills. In a moment when kids may feel pressured, it can be a game changer for them to be able to draw from past conversations to find the right way to say no. 



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