Why Conversation Starters?
Conversation Starters were developed because parents expressed a need for ideas on how to approach difficult conversations with their children concerning alcohol and drugs. Check some of them out below.
Want even more? Center Point offers additional cards and makes them available to you at no cost. Simply contact Center Point Prevention Specialist Judy Brownell at firstname.lastname@example.org for yours.
Title your subject, “Conversation Cards.”
“Kids who learn about drug risks from their parents are 50% less likely to use.”
Here’s some information to share:
- Alcohol affects many organs in your body, heart, lungs, brain, kidneys, liver, and stomach.
- Most people don’t drink alcohol.
- Alcohol can damage your brain forever.
- Your brain does not recover.
- Alcohol can cause you to act in ways you normally would not act.
- Alcohol can destroy your family.
You find out a celebrity your teen looks up to is using drugs.
Ideas of what to say:
- Let’s talk about it.
- When you see that person use alcohol, how does it make you feel?
- Do you think it is real?
- Do you admire someone because of this behavior?
Teen: I really like _______. He did so well in his song.
Parent: Did you know ________ has been known to use drugs/alcohol? (cite resource)
Teen: Really? He doesn’t seem like it.
Parent: Sometimes people only put out positives, but really something bigger is going on.
Teen: I did not know that.
Parent: You never know what is really going on behind the scenes. Making bad choices can hurt his future plans. I love you and don’t want to see that happen to you.
What would you do if, at a party, a friend is passed out from alcohol or drugs?
Tell your teen:
- Call 911. Get help immediately. Don’t wait.
- Contact an adult.
- Call your parent.
Ask your teen: What would you do at a party if a friend offers you alcohol?
It is important that your teen to be prepared. Most youth don’t drink.
- 89% of youth reported they do not drink alcohol in the 2013 Georgia Student Health Survey.
- Plan ahead of time in case something happens.
- Parent and teen can develop a code. If your teen is ever out and becomes uncomfortable in a situation, they can call or text parent and give code. The parent understands code and picks them up.
Rehearse “Refusal Strategies” with your teen (See resource card at the end). Youth really like to role play.
- Say no
- Walk away
- Better idea
- Reverse the pressure
- Broken record
- Steer clear
- Make an excuse
- State the facts
Role play often with your child, the more familiar they are, the more they will use Refusal Strategies.
- When asked to go along with a risky behavior, like shop lifting; your child will suggest a better
idea. Why don’t we check out the rock climbing wall at the mall instead? Your child will decide
on the behavior that is exciting and legal.
- When asked to drink alcohol under age, “state the facts” I don’t drink alcohol, at our age it
can damage our brain and it is illegal.
- Steer Clear: Looks like a fight is about to start over there! Yeah, lets “steer clear” of that.
Someone might get hurt.
- Your child is asked to let someone cheat off their test. Use the “broken record” strategy; I
don’t cheat. I don’t cheat. I don’t cheat.
- For some situations, your child may need to “walk away”. Don’t get into a debate, walk away
to a safe place.
- Your child is being pressured to start a rumor about another child. “Reverse the pressure”- If
you really are my friend you wouldn’t pressure me.
- “Ignore” when your child is asked to do something they are not comfortable with, they
simply ignore the request. Say nothing, no eye contact.
You want to discuss the laws about alcohol and drugs with your teen.
- Drinking age is 21.
- If arrested drinking under 21, the charge is possession of alcohol by a minor.
- You would be involved with the juvenile court if under 17.
- Once 17, you are treated as an adult in the court system.
- If you get caught drinking and driving under 21, your license is suspended for 1 year for each time you are arrested.
You want to develop rules and consequences about alcohol and drug usage, curfew, etc.
- Discuss the Pledge.
- Set consequences
- Have your teen to draft the rules and consequences. Typically they are stricter that parents are. Parents can then go over with their teens the plan and make adjustments.
- Model good behavior.
- Parents be prepared for resistance from your teen. You would not let your teen walk out into traffic, so don’t let them walk into drugs and alcohol.
As a part of the rules, you want your teen to check in periodically. How do you do that?
- One idea: Set a rule that your teen pans the room with cell phone camera at designated times. You may need to do more than a phone call. Trust but verify. Be sure the teen is aware of the plan before the teen goes to a party.
- Have a discussion with your teen and together, develop a plan.
- Put the plan in writing.
What do you do when there is resistance from your youth for about issues of drinking?
Make rules. It is important to keep the conversation going. Listen to what they have to say and validate their feelings. But remember some things are not negotiable. Explain it is for their safety.
As our youth are growing, it is the time to be their parent, not their friend.
Is the resistance a warning sign?