This campaign is sponsored by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

Did you know kids start forming opinions about alcohol and alcohol use at age 8?! They may see people drinking on TV, see you have a sip here or there, or see it in some other way, but they start to form opinions. The good news is that you can very easily help form your child’s opinions on the subject by having some simple conversations with them!

Talking To Kids About Serious Topics

I know talking to kids about serious topics can be intimidating. I get nervous every time I know I’m going to bring the subject up, and my kids aren’t the most comfortable having conversations like this either, but I’ve found that it’s super easy to take advantage of downtime with my kids to have a few little ‘small talks’ about underage drinking. Lots of little small talks over time can help build trust and set expectations as your kids are exposed to alcohol more and more.

I’ve started talking to my kids when we’re out for walks or just any downtime when we’re alone together. Recently, my son and I did some rafting and biking, and it was the perfect time to have a casual conversation. My daughter loves to paint, so I chatted with her while she was working on a piece. We talked about what they have heard about alcohol, what their thoughts are, and I keep an open line of communication with them. I’m just there to listen and hopefully get them to open up to me with questions they have.

Bringing Up Underage Drinking

When I first started talking to my kids about alcohol and drinking, I wanted to know what they already knew and heard, and if their friends had talked about it with them. I asked questions like, “have you and your friends ever talked about drinking beer or alcohol?” After I got a response, I dove deeper by asking more questions and wasn’t surprised to find out that it has come up in their conversations but was glad to know none of them have tried anything.

I also asked, “what if your friends dare you to drink something?” I wanted my kids to know that it is something that could happen and to think about how they would respond now instead of trying to think quickly in the moment. This turned out to be a really good conversation about different scenarios, and I hope that WHEN this does happen, my child will be ready to say no and not feel pressured.

Listen Don’t Lecture

One of the hardest things for me to do during this whole process is just to listen and not start lecturing. But it’s important to remember to keep your ears open and use open-ended questions instead of trying to lecture. My kids shut down more quickly if they sense a lecture coming on, so I’ve had to work on answering them with more questions of my own while trying to get across my points regarding underage drinking dangers.

How To Plan A Small Talk

Small talks don’t require a lot of planning or a big production. You can do it any time that feels right to you. Whether that’s over homework, while watching TV, going for a walk, on a bike ride, or any little moment where the opportunity presents itself. There is no right or wrong way to have a small talk, and having lots of small talks (even do-overs) over time shows you care and are paying attention. It’s even okay to make mistakes along the way, just keep the conversations going throughout the years.

Need more talking points or tips to help you along the way?
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