When school ends, our family shifts into summer mode. We look forward to a more relaxed schedule with fewer alarms, bonding over a vacation, and the ability to be more spontaneous. But despite the laissez-faire attitude, I’m always looking for ways to keep the learning going while my kids are out of school.
Kids have a lot of questions, and they are often based on what they have seen or are seeing. In the summertime, it makes sense that some of these questions are about alcohol. Summer is the perfect time to look for teachable moments about alcohol and responsibility.
Whether it’s a question your child has at a baseball game, observing a friend or relative at a BBQ, wondering why certain drinks are off-limits in the cooler at the beach or even something mentioned during a road trip, here are some lessons about alcohol and responsibility to incorporate into summer.
Rumors spread fast and what kids think they know about alcohol isn’t fully true. Besides knowing alcohol is illegal to consume before the age of 21, understanding how alcohol affects the developing brain is also important.
Curiosity about alcohol starts at a young age. Kids want to know about the colorful fruity drink with the tantalizing slice of fruit and fun umbrella or, as in the case in our family, when our daughter asked if she could have a beer at the ballpark when she was 9.
Instead of jumping to conclusions or imparting judgment, take a step back. Ask open-ended leading questions that will get your child talking. These answers to some of the most popular questions about alcohol are helpful in knowing how to respond to keep the conversation going
Break the Ice
Since parents are the #1 influence on their kids’ decisions to drink- or not to drink- alcohol, we can’t afford to ignore this topic. Break the ice by seizing teachable moments like the beer in the ballpark request. 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.
There’s no bad time to talk about the dangers of underage drinking and it’s important for kids to understand why they’re not allowed to drink.
Empower Them to Say No
Remembering lessons learned and knowing the laws are important, but so is having the confidence to stand up to peer pressure and say no. Teaching the importance of living a healthy lifestyle can help kids understand that alcohol does not help their bodies work at their full potential. Talk through these hypothetical situations to help your kids practice safe decision-making.
Keep Lines of Communication Open
Talking about alcohol isn’t a one-and-done conversation we can check off our parenting to-do list. The way alcohol is present in our kids’ lives shifts as they get older. Younger kids may want to know what’s in your glass but as they get older, they can be subjected to peer pressure to drink. Let your kids know that you’ll always be there to keep them safe. Make sure they know they can count on you if they need a ride or help out of a dangerous situation.
School’s out for the summer—but the teaching and learning continues.
Thank you for all you do to keep kids alcohol-free. Underage drinking levels are at historic lows. And together, we can keep them moving in the right direction!