There are so many influences out there that are impacting our children. It’s terrifying. That’s why it is so important to begin educating children early.
Many parents think that alcohol is the least of their worries. After all, underage drinking isn’t a problem at this age — or is it?
As a mom of two boys, one who is in elementary school, I was like many other parents in thinking that underage drinking wouldn’t be a problem this young. After all, do kids even know what alcohol and drinking is? The reality is that one in three kids have tried alcohol before age eight.
I’m being honest, the truth is sobering.
There’s good news though. Children ages eight to 11 are the most receptive to parents’ input, and as parents it’s our job to educate our children about alcohol. It means that conversations about alcohol should not be intimidating. Instead of one “scary” conversation, conversations should start early and be often. It should be, and remain, an open dialogue. In fact, you can learn more about starting conversations with your children by visiting KnowWhenKnowHow.org.
I recently sat down with my son to explain some of the risks and consequences of underage drinking. I told him that I always want the very best for him which is why I want to start talking to him early about why he shouldn’t participate in underage drinking.
Some of the questions that he had for me were:
- What all is alcohol?
- Why is it okay for parents to drink alcohol?
- What do I do if I see my friends drinking alcohol?
- If I drink alcohol will it hurt me?
This was the first we had actually sat down to talk about underage drinking, so it was a little foreign to him, but he was very receptive to it and even told me that they had talked about it in school some.
I explained to him that not only is drinking alcohol when you are underage illegal, but it can also hurt how his brain develops. I told him that adults are able to drink because our brains have already developed, so having a little bit to drink won’t hurt us.
Do you keep your alcohol secure?
Since many parents don’t think underage drinking is a problem in elementary school, they don’t secure their alcohol. This is a mistake, however. Exposure and first experiences are starting earlier and earlier, and even though you might secure your alcohol, your children’s friends’ parents might not, so it is important that your children are aware. This is so important because underage drinking carries serious risks such as nerve cell and brain damage. This is in addition to significantly increasing risks for alcoholism and other abuse disorders later in life.
It is a scary world out there. As a parent, it is our job to protect our children. This means educating them, talking to them, and making sure that there is an open dialogue. A simple conversation can go a long way.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.