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How to Start A Conversation with Teens About Alcohol


teenage boy with his mom and dad

Talking openly and honestly about alcohol and other drugs can help children understand your family’s values. It can also help you bond with your kids, which in itself is a key way to protect them from substance-related harm. Here are tips for starting conversations about alcohol or other drugs.

Seize Opportunities

Take advantage of opportunities to connect in everyday conversations or as part of ordinary activities. Alcohol or other drugs may come up naturally when sharing something you heard on the news, or when swapping stories about what happened at school or work. Also look for openings when watching TV or a movie together. A character’s action in a movie can provide an opportunity to talk about choices and how substance use can interfere with goals and plans.

Connect on the move

Connecting is sometimes easier when you’re not sitting across from one other or looking directly at each other. Try starting a conversation while in the car, taking a walk, playing sports, or doing chores together.

Make it fun

Think about ways to weave in chats about alcohol while hanging out, playing, or goofing off with your children. Watch music videos and listen to popular music together to explore and talk about youth culture. Play games and quizzes to get teens talking and sharing their thoughts and feelings. Look for board or online games for teens that get conversations started (example: Take Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines Quiz)

Did you know?
Talking openly about alcohol can help you bond with your teen - a key way to protect them from substance-related harm.

Share ideas

Share ideas and perspectives with your children. Family or community events where alcohol will be served can be a good time to talk about social and cultural contexts around drinking alcohol. Bring up moderation, social responsibility and the influence of community norms on how much, how often, when, where and how we use different substances.

Last Updated: March 31, 2015