Make the Small Moments Matter

Father and son in car, son with headphones on ignoring dad

Finding Time to Discuss the Risks of Underage Drinking

Spending quality time with teens may feel like a hurdle at times. Chances are they or you may have a busy schedule. Even if this is the case in your household, you can still make the most of the brief interactions you have with your teen and encourage safe decision-making.

Discussing the risks of underage drinking does not have to be a long conversation. Having brief and frequent chats about the risks and your expectations is often more effective.

Finding the Right Moments

When discussing the risks and rules around underage drinking, try to keep it casual. Find those natural moments when you and your teen are together, and you have their attention.

Here are possible occasions:

  • At the beginning or end of the day, there’s something special about the chance to be the first or last person your teen talks to.
  • When you are in the car or sitting next to your teen on the bus, you can use your commute to catch up and chat about not drinking.
  • Whether family mealtime is mandatory or not, try to schedule time to eat with your teen and have a meaningful conversation.

Making the Most of the Moment

If you do manage to have uninterrupted time with your teen, take advantage of every minute.

Be straightforward, open, and honest with your teen. Share underage drinking risks that are grounded in research.

Even if the conversation gets tense, the good thing is that there is a destination. That may force you to push pause on the discussion and continue it another time.

As you talk with your child, be aware of your delivery. This includes watching your tone and body language. Try to avoid an aggressive tone or crossed arms because this may imply that you aren’t in a place to listen.

It’s also essential to make the conversation a two-way street. Allow your teen to ask questions or share their point of view

What if My Teen Isn’t Receptive?

If you find that these conversations about underage drinking don’t go over well with your teen, don’t feel discouraged, and don’t stop talking about it. Frequent conversations help establish your expectations for your teen to decide not to drink while underage.

There are other ways to promote your teen’s decisions not to drink. Research shows that staying involved in your teen’s life and monitoring their activities can have a positive impact.¹

Keep Showing Up, They’re Still Growing Up.


Where can parents get more information?

1. Komro, K. A., & Toomey, T. L. (2002). Strategies to Prevent Underage Drinking.

Funded in whole or in part by the Illinois Department of Human Services, Division of Substance Use Prevention and Recovery through a grant from the Substance
Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

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