Tips For Parents Talking With Kids About Alcohol

You may be dreading the difficult conversations that must be had as your children grow older. It’s hard to know what to say, where to start, and how to explain alcohol to a child. While it may feel like a challenge, it is a crucial conversation to discuss alcohol with your children. Knowledge is power and giving your children accurate information, guidance, clear boundaries, and a safe space to discuss drinking alcohol is the ideal for which you can strive. It’s important to know you’re not alone in this! There are resources readily available to guide you through the process and SBIRT Mississippi is here to provide some tips for discussing alcohol with children

How Do I Talk To My Kids About Alcohol?

Start Alcohol Conversations with Kids Early

Starting the conversations about alcohol early is always a good idea. The ideal age to have this discussion will depend largely on your child and their development, however, around the age of 9 or 10, many children recognize alcohol and have been exposed to others drinking, whether in person, on TV, or hearing about it from peers/siblings. Opening up the dialogue with your children about drinking can help prepare them for peer pressure and how to handle saying no to underage drinking. 

Honesty is Important

Providing honest and accurate information is crucial. Building trust with your child about this topic (and others) is imperative to lay a foundation where they feel safe to confide in you. If they do slip up as they grow older, having this trust opens the door for them to come to you for help and guidance rather than seeking it from outside sources and/or hiding it from you. Discussing the dangers and harm of underage drinking and unsafe drinking habits at any age is important but avoid using this as a scare tactic.

Age-Appropriate Conversations About Drinking

At each age, you can revisit the topic of drinking alcohol, expanding your explanation as they mature and age. You’ll likely need to start with very simple explanations about the risks of drinking and move into more in-depth discussions as your children mature. 

Share Personal Experiences with Alcohol

While many parents shy away from sharing about personal experiences or those of friends, family, or people you know, personal accounts can make these discussions more real and applicable to your children. Discuss accounts of negative outcomes from drinking while teaching methods of safe drinking practices for when they are of age. Your teens will need to know about responsible drinking practices, such as moderation, never drinking and driving, and knowing their limits. Watching you “practice what you preach” will go far in their understanding of alcohol.

Discuss Peer Pressure About Drinking

Teach your children methods of saying no to peer pressure about alcohol. Role-playing and practice in making informed decisions can help pave the way to a more automatic response.

Set Clear Boundaries and Rules Around Alcohol

Establishing rules and expectations around alcohol use in your family, especially around underage drinking is important. Your children need to know the consequences of breaking those rules but they also need practice with maintaining those boundaries. Your children will also need an open and safe place to discuss their difficulties with adhering to those rules when facing peer pressure. 

Alcohol Treatment for Teens Near Me 

If you are concerned that your teen has a drinking problem, have them take this free, 100% online quick quiz. SBIRT can help determine if your child has an issue with alcohol and refer appropriate treatment for alcohol in your local Mississippi area.