6 Quick TIPS for Talking About Underage Drinking with your Teen

In Iroquois County, 61% of high school seniors admit that they have used alcohol in the past year, and 45% of all sophomores say that they have already started drinking alcohol on some level. To go deeper into the statistics, view the Iroquois County Youth Survey Report here.

Discussions about alcohol are not easy, but they are important. By educating your child about the risks and consequences of consuming alcohol, along with alternatives, you can help shape their behaviors. You will also show them exactly where you stand on this topic so they know that you’re not okay with underage drinking. We’re here to help. Here are 6 quick tips for talking about underage drinking with your teen:

  • Know the Facts First

Underage drinking is illegal and harmful to a growing body (read more here). Breaking the law and drinking before the age of 21 comes with severe consequences, including large fines, loss of a driver’s license, and it can impact potential scholarships and eligibility to play in high school and college sports.

By understanding the consequences and the risks of underage drinking yourself, you can then share this information with your child, giving them a wider base of information when deciding whether or not to drink.

  • Show Them You Care

To your teen, it may feel like you just don’t want them to have fun, which of course is far from the truth. Let your teenager know that you love and care for them, which is why you’re telling them about the dangers of drinking.

  • Take Advantage of Opportunities

The most impactful talks between you and your teen don’t have to be planned ahead of time or several hours long. Take advantage of opportunities to talk with them after you see a story on the news related to drinking or while in the car on the way to school. This will help remind them of how you feel about them drinking and keep it on the top of their mind, helping them in situations of peer pressure.

  • Sympathize with the Difficulty of Saying No

While you may seem old to your child, you were a teen once too and can empathize with them. Explain that you understand that it’s difficult to say no, especially to friends, but also stress how important it is to make your own decisions and take a stand against what you know is wrong.

  • Help Them Develop a Plan

The message “just say no” can work, but in some situations,just saying no isn’t enough. Help your teen develop a plan around saying no and avoiding dangerous situations.

For example, role play where your child is trying to get you to drink. Give alternative suggestions like “why don’t we just go to my house and play video games instead.” By going through scenarios and helping them come up with ideas on how to say no to their friends when it comes to alcohol, you will increase their comfort with approaching this tough situation and make them more likely to avoid drinking because of peer pressure.

  • Once Is Not Enough

Your child won’t only be asked once or twice if they want a drink, so a single talk about the subject won’t be enough. The importance of avoiding underage drinking should be an ongoing discussion between you and your teenager. Have regular conversations about the dangers of using alcohol and make sure that they know that it’s not okay, and that they can talk to you about it.

Need additional help? Get more talking and listening TIPS on underage drinking here!