6 Effective Ways to Talk to Your Kids About the Dangers of Alcohol

Often teens and kids start to learn about alcohol either because their parents have it at home or because professionals come and talk to them about it in school. While there is nothing wrong with occasional responsible drinking, when teenagers and kids are exposed to unhealthy alcohol consumption, it can increase their risk of consuming alcohol in the same way. It’s important to have uncomfortable conversations with your kids starting when they are old enough to understand so that they can learn how to make healthy choices as they grow and are confronted with opportunities to drink alcohol. Here are 6 effective ways to talk to your kids about the dangers of alcohol without trying to create fear.

Create a Family Environment Where it is Okay to Talk About Tough Topics

The more open and honest your family is about hard topics like sex, drugs, and peer pressure, the more likely your kids will come to you when questions or issues come up. You can start the conversation by being honest and open about your own experiences with alcohol. Use age-appropriate language that matches what your child knows or can understand. Help them to understand that alcohol is good occasionally, but when it becomes a daily habit, it can become a problem. Don’t preach or lecture, but rather ask questions and listen carefully when they respond.

Don’t Sugar-Coat the Truth

Your kids won’t learn anything if they think that alcohol is harmless and risk-free. You can talk to them about what happens when teens and kids start to drink alcohol. You can discuss how sometimes they need to get adolescent treatment so they can overcome alcohol addiction at a young age. Explain what addiction does to someone’s mind, and how it impairs their senses and makes it difficult to make wise choices, especially when it comes to driving. Make sure your kids know that drinking too much alcohol can lead to problems with their health, schoolwork, relationships, and can even cause legal troubles.

Don’t Threaten, Scare or Preach

When it comes to communicating with your children about alcohol, you’ll want to avoid scare tactics, threats, and lecturing. This can make your child feel resentful and less likely to come to you when issues arise. Instead of laying down a list of rules for drinking alcohol, sit down with them and have an open discussion about how it makes you feel. It’s important to build trust with your child. If your child knows that their actions affect them and others around them in a negative way, they may be less likely to try something and more willing to talk to you if they get into tricky situations.

Be a Good Listener

As your kids grow up, it’s important to listen. Don’t interrupt your child when they are talking, and don’t be judgmental or defensive in your responses. Instead, ask questions about what your child has been exposed to, how they feel about it, and if they need your help in tough situations. Give them the freedom to contact you in the event of something they feel uncomfortable with even if they are somewhere they don’t belong.

Learn the Warning Signs of Alcohol Use/Abuse

Not all kids who drink show the same signs, but there are some warnings you can watch out for. Avoidance behaviors, especially when it comes to talking about alcohol or drugs. If your child is avoiding conversations about their health, it could be a sign that they’re drinking more than you realize.

When your teen is unable to remember details about events. If your child can’t recall what happened at school or at home, it could indicate that they are using alcohol regularly and it is affecting their memory. Another warning sign is that they are suddenly getting into trouble at home or at school. If your normally well-behaved kid starts acting out in ways he never has before, his behavior may be due to his increased tolerance for alcohol and/or drugs.

Identify the Reasons They Might be Tempted to Drink

Once you’ve explained the dangers of alcohol, identify the reasons they might be tempted to drink. Peer pressure of course is one option that might lead to alcohol, but depression and anxiety about situations or life, in general, can also prompt teens to start drinking. Teens are also curious. Your kids may be great kids, but they may be simply curious to try out alcohol to see how it makes them feel or what it tastes like. Even though they probably know the dangers, this doesn’t always stop kids from trying it at least once or twice.