According to The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, over one-third of teens have had at least one alcoholic drink by age 15. This number roughly doubles by age 18. In this age range, teens are more likely binge drink as well, which can be dangerous. Because of this, it is important to talk with your kids about alcohol and alcohol abuse.

How-to Talk to Your Kids About Alcohol: Important Conversations to Have

Start Early

There are different ways you can talk with your kids about alcohol. Many adults think the best course of action is to sit down and have one big serious conversation with their kids about a tough topic. During this meeting, parents may just lay down a bunch of rules and be done with it. It may actually be better to have small, ongoing conversations over a long time. Start the conversations when they are young. Ask thoughtful, thought-provoking questions that naturally fit into a conversation. For example, if something comes up about someone getting drunk or having an issue with drinking, you could ask your kids, “What do you think about that?” or “Why do you think that person got involved with doing that?’. These questions will make kids actually think about the topic and answers. This will help them come to their own conclusions about alcohol.

Be Real

When it comes time to talk to your kids about alcohol, be real. Even if they are embarrassing, ell them real life stories that happened to you and how you dealt with the situation. Sharing these real life experiences help to open the door for communication. It also takes the conversation and pressure off of them. Perhaps these stories could even plant a seed in them for the future.

Don’t Shut Them Down

Kids ask a lot of questions. However, it is easy to shut them down when you do not want to have a difficult conversation. In this case, sometimes it is better to just give the real, straightforward answer. For example, if a young child asks why they can not have some beer or wine, just tell them the truth. Tell them that is is against the law for anyone under the age of 21 to drink alcohol. Sometimes all kids want or need is a simple, understandable answer.