Having Conversations and Communicating

Ask Listen Learn: Kids and Alcohol Don’t Mix approaches underage drinking in a way that is unique from other underage drinking prevention programs. Using research about the developing brain, and combining it with animated videos allows parents and kids to talk about saying NO to underage drinking in an approachable way. The science behind what alcohol does to the brain and how that affects the body satisfies the pre-teen curiosity about how the body works and may help you answer their questions.

Talking to your kids early and often about underage drinking is important. You should be to feel comfortable having conversations about alcohol. Kids will have questions, so encourage them to ask them. Be there to listen. Learn together about the best ways to communicate that keep the lines of communication open.

Say it Loud, Say it Proud: Communicating Effectively

Communication is vital – it allows kids to connect, understand each other, and learn how to express themselves successfully and appropriately. The Ask, Listen, Learn program focuses on brain development, how parts of the brain are affected by alcohol, and the consequences underage drinking has on this development. Where communication is concerned, the cerebellum controls not only physical coordination, but also verbal coordination, which allows us to communicate with our voices.

Making a tough decision is just the first step. Then, communicating that decision effectively is essential.

First impressions matter

While this sounds like advice you may receive before a job interview, it’s important to explain to kids as well. Being kind, behaving appropriately, and engaging in conversation will set the tone for their relationships with friends.

Example Questions

Although you can’t predict which questions your child will ask, we gathered some popular suggestions and possible answers that might come up. Of course you can tweak the answers to fit your family situation, lifestyle, and personal choices–but feel great knowing that the conversations are happening and your kids are communicating!

Why is alcohol bad for me?

  • It interferes with your judgment. You might make really dangerous mistakes like going to places or doing and saying things you shouldn’t.
  • There are long-term effects to drinking, and starting early can lead to health issues. Drinking too much over a long period of time can damage just about every organ in your body.
  • Your body and brain are still developing and growing. Alcohol dangerously interferes with that growth.

Grown-ups drink alcohol, why can’t I?

  • First, it’s against the law, and there’s a reason for that. Alcohol can be misused, and people must be old enough to take responsibility for drinking. Statistics show that adolescents who drink are highly prone to accidents and dangerous situations. Plus, you are young and your body and brain are still growing.
  • Also, certain privileges come with age. This is not limited to drinking alcohol but other things too. Adults not only are allowed to drink, they can also drive cars and vote. But adults have increased responsibilities in addition to the privileges that come with age: they go to work, pay taxes, and provide for their families.

Just because you drink doesn’t mean you’re drunk, right?

  • Many factors affect whether people who drink are drunk These include gender, weight, how fast they are drinking, and whether they have had water and a meal with the drinks. This goes for beer, wine, or liquor.
  • It is important for any adult to know their limits and to drink responsibly. Making healthy decisions is important for adults too! Here is one parent’s story about how responsibility starts with them. 

Why isn’t alcohol illegal?

Alcohol is a longstanding part of our culture, and most adults who drink are able to enjoy it responsibly. There was a time in our history when it WAS illegal to consume alcohol, but now there are laws in place to make sure that people who do choose to drink do so within certain legalities.

Confidence is key

When communicating a decision, let you kids know that it’s important to sound self-assured, even if they may be nervous. Standing up straight, delivering their message in a clear voice, and looking people in the eye will allow them to get their point across with little room for confusion or miscommunication. This is particularly salient when saying no to alcohol.

There are more ways than one

Speaking with your voice is what we tend to consider effective communication, but there are other ways to deliver a strong and confident message. Depending on the situation, writing could be a useful medium. If your child has had a disagreement with a friend, and they feel more confident with a pen and paper, writing a card to express themselves is appropriate.

Don’t be afraid to share

Encourage your kids to share their feelings with their friends, and let them know that a true friendship is not judgmental. Saying, I feel ____ when you _____ will allow both parties to gain a little more understanding.

Remind your kids to take these skills into consideration when faced with a tough decision regarding alcohol, and always offer to talk it out with them if they’re nervous about going to a party or event. Your kids might enjoy hearing from our Brain Team about more ways to say no to underage drinking – check it out!

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