Responsible Choices, Responsible Summer

It’s almost summer, the time of the year when more leisurely schedules, chances to be spontaneous, and family time are upon us. As kids anticipate moving up to a new grade in the fall, summer provides an opportunity for them to exercise increased independence and with this independence comes responsibility.

Even though school may be out for the summer, the teaching and learning continues, especially when it comes to lessons on responsibility. This summer assign yourself some homework to continue conversations with your kids about making responsible choices because when kids are empowered, they’re more likely to say “YES” to a healthy lifestyle and “NO” to underage drinking.

Suggest Activities to Encourage Responsible Decision Making

Unstructured days provide kids with free time to exercise their autonomy but be sure to provide some structure through check-ins. Asking, “what are you up to tomorrow?” during dinner or asking about the day’s plans each morning gets kids thinking about their options and encourages them to make sure they are communicated to you. As you listen to the possibilities for the day, encourage good decision-making and set clear rules and expectations.

If your kid has no plans, suggest a couple of sets of activities they can choose from such as walking the dog or mowing the lawn, reading a book or completing summer work, spending time with friends at the pool or playing outside. Giving your child the ability to decide between two activities encourages them to make responsible choices and provides some structure before monotony sets in and all the days look the same. 

Remind Them How You Can Help Them Stay Safe

The truth is that kids can find themselves in sticky situations where it feels hard to stand up to their friends. Help them stay safe by letting them know they can always use you as an excuse to get out of a situation because the bottom line is that we always want our kids to be safe.

Determine a single letter or an emoji that they can text you as a signal for help. Let them know when you get their signal, you’ll call them and ask them to come home immediately. Emphasize that calling for help and being safe is always an option and you will never regret them making that choice.

Answer Their Questions

Curiosity about alcohol may start at a young age, and often kids have questions based on what they have seen or are seeing. In the summer, kids may see cocktails at a summer soiree, the pool, or a ballgame. It makes sense that some of these questions are about alcohol, making it a perfect time to look for teachable moments about alcohol and responsibility.

Use current events or things they tell you their friends are discussing to spark conversation. Kids are more receptive to listening in the car, during a meal, or when you’re winding down for the day. 

Teach the Facts

What kids think they know about alcohol isn’t always true, so make sure they know the facts.  Asking open-ended questions will get your child talking so you can figure out what they do and don’t know.

 It’s also important for kids to understand why they’re not allowed to drink. Besides knowing alcohol is illegal to consume before the age of 21, they should understand how alcohol affects the developing brain. These answers to some of the most popular questions about alcohol are helpful in knowing how to respond to keep the conversation going.

Thank you for continuing conversations with your kids that empower them to say “YES” to a healthy lifestyle and “NO” to underage drinking. We wish you a wonderful summer filled with responsible choices!

-The Ask, Listen, Learn Team