October 23 marks the beginning of Red Ribbon Week (link to blog). Celebrated annually from October 23-31, Red Ribbon Week is dedicated to raising awareness for substance-use prevention programs and efforts in schools. Around the country, students are learning about the importance of staying substance-free and saying “NO” to risky behaviors like underage drinking and underage cannabis use.
Since this is a topic that many kids will be discussing at school, we encourage you to find ways to keep these conversations going.
Check out these five conversations to have with your kids to extend their Red Ribbon Week lessons at home.
- Review your family values. Establishing values helps kids keep their priorities top-of-mind. Try simple lessons that are easy to comprehend such as “We follow the rules, and the rules say the legal drinking age is 21.” “We respect our brains and bodies, so we know it’s not safe for kids to drink alcohol underage.”
- Talk about peer pressure. Making good decisions can be challenging, but peer pressure is part of life. Being ready for it can make all the difference! Talk about self-confidence and knowing the difference between right and wrong. Finish the conversation by asking your kids about positive peer pressure! What is something great or brave that someone else inspired them to do because of their actions? Sometimes focusing on the good news can help kids open up and about ALL the news.
- Discuss personal goals. Take a look at what your kids are doing now and ask them where they want to be in 5, 10, or even 50 years! Let them come up with some roadblocks that might get in the way of them meeting their goals. Underage drinking or substance use can put the brakes on short- and long-term goals, so encourage them to keep their eyes on the future!
- Create and practice refusal strategies. Saying NO to underage drinking or other risky behaviors is so much easier after practicing! Talk with your kids about the various ways they can get out of a sticky situation. You can even use our 10 Ways to Say NO infographic (LINK) to help get the conversation started.
- Chat about your favorite ice cream flavor. That’s right! Not every conversation is serious. Not every conversation is about alcohol or making healthy choices. Take time to be silly, speak freely, and debate why chocolate chip ice cream is by far the most underrated flavor!
Parents, you are the #1 influence on your kids’ decisions to drink—or not to drink—alcohol. Keep up the great work. Your kids hear you, and they are listening, even when you think they aren’t. They are also watching and learning from your successes, attempts, and even your missteps. So, continue to model healthy ways to cope with stress, overcome obstacles, and treat others with dignity and respect.
Thank you for bringing Red Ribbon Week home to empower your kids to make the decision to remain substance-free.