4 Things You Need to Know About Underage Drinking

Thank you Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board for sponsoring this post. Learn more about how you can prevent underage drinking at KnowWhenKnowHow.org.


Underage drinking is something that parents, like myself with kids under the age of 13, probably don’t give much thought. Unfortunately, it is something that we should be thinking about early on. We all prepare on how to have “the talk” with our kids, but there are other talks we should be having with our kids as well, like about underage drinking.

While your ten-year-old may not be sneaking out to go to a party and have a drink, they may find themselves in a situation where they are offered alcohol at a friend’s house. And that is why it’s important to talk to them about drinking now.

Having an open dialogue with your kids lets them feel comfortable coming to you if they are ever in a bad situation. We sat our son down to talk about drinking, and with the help of KnowWhenKnowHow.org (link), we were comfortable talking with him. We found out that while he didn’t know a lot about alcohol, he did understand that it was for adults only.  We talked about what to do if he was ever in a situation where alcohol was offered, or even present.

A few weeks ago, I shared with you when and how you should talk to your child about alcohol. (link to post) If you need more convincing that now is the time, I am going to share with you the 4 things you should know about underage drinking.

4 Things You Should Know about Underage Drinking

Did you know that 1-in-3 kids has tried alcohol before age 8? 8! I know I was shocked to hear this and you are probably too. For many kids, that’s second grade. Peer pressure and curiosity can get the best of most children, along with opportunity.

7 out of 10 parents don’t keep their alcohol secure.  Exposure and first experiences are starting earlier and earlier, so even if you keep the alcohol in your home secure, the same may not be the case at the homes of your kids’ friends. Don’t be afraid to ask your friends or the parents of your kids’ friends if they keep their alcohol secure. Just like you would ask if there was a gun in the home, you should also be asking about alcohol. Kids like to experiment and will experiment with just about anything they can get their hands on.

Underage drinking carries serious risks that can negatively impact a child’s development, cause nerve cell and brain damage, preclude participation in sports and activities, and significantly increase risks for alcoholism and other abuse disorders later in life. When talking to your child about underage drinking, make them aware of these serious, long-term consequences, which are far more impactful than getting sick or a nasty hangover. While many parents think alcohol is the least of their worries with their kids, underage drinking – even just a sip or on special occasions – is illegal and often opens the door to other risky behaviors. So think before you let your child have “just a sip” of your drink!

Parents can serve as responsible role models for their children. Use everyday opportunities and circumstances to discuss the risks and consequences of underage drinking. After all, kids age 8 to 11 are most receptive to parents’ input, and most PA parents believe it’s their job to educate kids about alcohol.  Therefore, conversations about alcohol should start early and often, and don’t have to be one big intimidating “talk.”

For more helpful information be sure to refer to the Know When. Know How. website.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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