In response to this information, the La Crosse County Prevention Network (LCPN) launched Be The One campaign aimed at preventing underage drinking, increasing parent skills and includes a community call to action.
Be The One is comprised of:
How to Start the Conversation
Youth Ages 3 - 4
Youth Ages 3-4 Even though 3-4 year old's aren't ready to learn the facts about alcohol, they start to develop the decision-making and problem-solving skills they will need later. You can help them develop those skills in simple ways.
Let your toddler choose their outfit, even if it doesn't match. This lets them know you think that they're capable of making good decisions.
"Please pick out a pair of shorts and a top"
Set a good example 4 of the behavior that you want young people to demonstrate. This is especially true in the preschool years when kids tend to imitate adults' actions as a way of learning. So, by being active, eating healthy, and drinking responsibly, adults teach kids important lessons early on.
Youth Ages 4 - 7
Young people this age still think and learn mostly by experience. They understand the present but don't have a good understanding of things that may happen in the future. Keep discussions about alcohol in the present tense and relate them to things that young people know and understand.
For example, watching TV together can provide a chance to talk about advertising messages. Ask about the ads you see and encourage kids to ask questions too.
"Alcohol is a chemical that is in some drinks, like beer or wine."
Four to seven year old's are interested in how their bodies work, so this is a good time to talk about maintaining good health and avoiding substances that might harm the body. Talk about how alcohol hurts a person's ability to see, hear, and walk.
It changes the way people feel; and it makes it hard to judge things like whether the water is too deep or if there's a car coming too close. And it gives people bad breath and a headache!
Youth ages 8 - 11
Elementary school years are a crucial time in which you can influence a young person's decisions about alcohol use. Kids at this age love to learn facts, especially strange ones, and are eager to learn how things work and what sources of information are available to them.
Openly discuss facts about alcohol: the long and short-term effects and consequences, its physical effects, and why it's especially dangerous for growing bodies.
"Alcohol is legal for adults over 21. It isn't safe for you. Your brain is growing really fast and alcohol isn't good for growing brains."
Young people can be heavily influenced by friends now. Their interests may be determined by what their peers think. Teach them the skill of saying "no" to peer pressure and discuss the importance of thinking and acting as an individual.
Casual discussions about alcohol and friends can take place at the dinner table as part of your normal conversation: "I've been reading about young kids using alcohol. Do you ever hear about kids using alcohol or other drugs in your school?"
Youth ages 12 - 17
By the teen years, your kids should know the facts about alcohol and your attitudes and beliefs about substance abuse. Use this time to reinforce what you've already taught them and focus on keeping the lines of communication open.
Teens are more likely to engage in risky behaviors, and their increasing need for independence may make them want to defy their parents' wishes or instructions. When you make teens feel accepted and respected as an individual, you increase the chances that they will try to be open with you.
"You matter to me and I love you. It's my job to help you stay safe and healthy. Using alcohol is not okay."
Teens want to make healthy choices but need regular guidance without judgement to do so. Avoid excessive preaching and threats, and instead, emphasize your love and concern. Even when they're annoyed by adult interest and questions, teens still recognize that it comes with the territory.
Young adults ages 18 - 25
Adults at this stage continue to need guidance without judgement. Respect their boundaries, and yours. Listen to their questions and conversations instead of trying to convince them. Know where you stand but allow room for disagreement. Voicing your concerns and being open to questions and challenges is key for young adults to connect with you. Connection to other caring adults is the prevention for alcohol misuse.
Their brain matters: