How to Discuss Underage Drinking

The first step in preventing underage drinking is to talk about it. Underage drinking in Vermont is a problem that will not go away on its own, and even if you think your child may have already started drinking, it’s never too late to start the conversation. This section covers some general ideas on how to address underage drinking with your children as they grow up.

For specific ways to get the conversation going and examples of tough questions your teen may ask, visit the Talking With Your Teen section.

You can also take a look at our videos for more information and ways to discuss underage drinking.

For a printable copy of this information, see Discussing and Ways to Say No.

Some Tips to Remember

Here are some general tips to keep in mind when talking to your child about underage drinking—regardless of age:

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Age-Appropriate Information

Grade School

Start talking about alcohol with your child at an early age. Give her accurate information about the dangers and side effects of alcohol use. Points to remember include:

When you drink alcohol yourself, be sure to make healthy choices and lead by example. Answer any questions that your child asks—don’t assume they are too young. If you don’t have the answer, it’s okay, you can find out together. Use the examples given above to discuss why adults may drink but children may not, and always be clear that you don’t want your child to start drinking until he is 21 years old.

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Middle School

Around this age, children start forming tighter friendships at school and begin doing things on their own. You may have already talked about drinking, but now some kids may start experimenting. Children start to define their personal boundaries and comfort zones, and you should continue to discuss underage drinking:

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High School

Your child will be excited to start high school, but will also face increased pressure to start drinking. Think about the issues you want to talk about, imagine how your child will react and how you can respond, then choose a time and place to talk. Keep these things in mind when talking with your teen:

For specific ways to get the conversation going, and examples of tough questions your teen may ask, visit the Talking With Your Teen section.

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Ways To Say No

You have to do more than simply tell your child not to drink—you should prepare her to turn down alcohol and handle peer pressure. Talk with your child about the different situations she may find herself in where alcohol may become a factor, like parties, after school, a friend’s house, riding in a car and others.

Here are some things your child can say to turn down alcohol:*

*Excerpts from "Keeping Your Kids Drug-Free" by the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, Office of National Drug Control Policy.

For a printable copy of Ways to Say No, go here.

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