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Here’s How You Talk to Kids About Alcohol

Here’s How You Talk to Kids About Alcohol_5fbe97a6c9cbe.jpeg
Better Conversation Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Ralph S. Blackman

Here’s How You Talk to Kids About Alcohol

Here’s How You Talk to Kids About Alcohol

Raising smart, healthy kids is a challenge. During the middle school years in particular, when all kinds of temptations abound, parents want to make sure their kids have the necessary information to make the best decisions. More often than not, parents may question whether their messages are hitting home.

“Do my kids fully understand why underage drinking is harmful to their developing brains? Do they feel comfortable asking me questions about alcohol? Am I prepared to answer those questions?”

Research shows alcohol can severely impair brain development during the formative middle school years, so it is imperative to teach kids about alcohol’s impact on their growing brains. This age group is particularly fascinated in all the slimy, funny ways the body works, making middle school the perfect time to discuss the topic. Engaging, informative conversations about alcohol and the body should come from parents as well as teachers, who have a large impact on helping their students lead healthy lifestyles.

Prevention strategies that encourage open and ongoing dialogues between parents and kids about the dangers of underage drinking are not new. These strategies have been in place for years, and more and more parent-child conversations are happening all the time. From 2003 to 2016, conversations between kids and their parents increased 73 percent. During that same time period, the 2016 Monitoring the Future survey showed that underage drinking decreased 50 percent. While this is a major improvement—underage drinking is at a record low—there is still work to be done.

Our team at the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility recognizes that parents are the single most important influence in a kid’s decision to drink—or not to drink—alcohol. This is why we have launched a comprehensive set of new digital tools—through our alcohol education program, Ask, Listen, Learn: Kids and Alcohol Don’t Mix—to help parents and teachers start these conversations with middle school youth, and to help kids understand the negative consequences of alcohol on their developing brains.

These new tools give parents and teachers the facts that most interest kids on the effects of alcohol. All materials are research-based, connecting with classroom health and science curricula, so adults can be confident in the information and skills their kids are acquiring. Program content regarding the effects of alcohol on the developing brain has been reviewed by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and is consistent with currently available science.

These resources are not only fun and engaging—they include a seven-part animated video series, vocabulary exercises, lesson plans for teachers, and other interactive activities—they also help to connect the dots between conversations about saying “no” to underage drinking and the science behind why kids and alcohol don’t mix. With these resources in hand, adults and kids alike can be more engaged with each other and better understand the dangers of underage drinking, stopping it before it starts.

Photo courtesy of Ask, Listen, Learn

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