Remember when your kids were babies and you worried about everything? You worried about what they needed to eat and how often they needed their diaper changed and whether their fever meant something was terribly wrong and then …they grew up on you and your worries changed. You worried about their grades and their friends and whether or not they were having fun at their first sleepover, am I right?
A friend once told me, “Little kids mean little worries and big kids mean big worries.” I didn’t quite get it then, but now I do. Now, I’m a mom to teenagers and preteens and I can tell you the worries do get bigger.
Tips for Having a Healthy Talk with Kids about Alcohol
Did you know that 1-in-3 kids in Pennsylvania have tried alcohol before age 8 – let that sink in for you a minute, we are talking 3rd grade!
Additionally, 7 out of 10 parents don’t keep their alcohol secure. So even if you keep the alcohol in your home secure, the same may not be the case at the homes of your kids’ friends. Underage drinking carries serious risks that can negatively impact a child’s development, cause nerve cell and brain damage, preclude participation in sports and activities, and significantly increase risks for alcoholism and other abuse disorders later in life.
Scary statistics right? Well it’s not all bad news, however.
The Know When. Know How. campaign is a statewide, research-based education and prevention effort targeted to Pennsylvania (PA) parents of children ages 8 through 12. The objective of the campaign is to prevent underage drinking by providing information and tools for parents so they can engage their children in discussion before trial or use of alcohol even begins.
A statewide telephone survey of more than 500 PA parents with children under age 21, along with eight focus groups across the state with parents of children between the ages of 5 and 15 provided a snapshot into the thoughts and beliefs of real Pennsylvania parents about the issue.
Parents can serve as responsible role models for their children, using everyday opportunities and circumstances to discuss the risks and consequences of underage drinking.
Studies show that kids age 8 to 11 are most receptive to parents’ input, therefore, conversations about alcohol should start early and often, and don’t have to be one big intimidating “talk.”
My children are good kids, yet I worry about them now more than ever and for good reason. As they head into middle school and high school ages, they aren’t with us as much as they once were. They have their own lives and their own likes and they are exposed more to the influence of friends. Allow me to tell you how we handle alcohol and “the talk” in my house. My husband and I aren’t big drinkers and we actually don’t have it in our own home so casual drinking isn’t something my children are exposed to on a daily or weekly basis.
We don’t have big family meetings about why they shouldn’t drink, however, we often use examples in the media or on our favorite television shows or in real life to explain and discuss with our kids our zero-tolerance approach to underage drinking.
We also encourage our children to participate in sports. A competitive atmosphere encourages children to want to be at their best for themselves and their teammates. Athletics and other extracurricular activities can promote time management and goal setting for children. Kids can learn that hard work does pay off and in order to achieve their goals they should try to live healthy lives.
I also believe that it is important for me to know my kids friends. A child’s friends are an important part of his or her life. Parents need to get to know them.
Here are ways to know what’s going on in a child’s life:
- Parents should encourage the child to invite friends over when they are at home. It’s a good way to learn about them, what they do, and what they think.
- Talk with the child about what qualities are important in a good friend. Are they honest and kind? Do they treat the child the same when they are one-on-one as they do in a group?
- Connect with other parents. Cultivating friendly relationships now will make parents feel comfortable giving the other parent a call if they have a concern in the future, such as what kind of adult supervision will there be at the slumber party.
Want to know when I find the best time to talk with my kids? In the car on the way home from swim practice, especially when it is one on one. I just find that they are more likely to open up when in the car, when we are both just looking forward and listening to the radio and chatting.
Want to learn more about how to have “the talk” with your kids? Get more details about the Know When. Know How. campaign at their website and start having the zero-tolerance alcohol talk with your kids today.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.