This guest post comes from our partner, THE FOUNDATION FOR ADVANCING ALCOHOL RESPONSIBILITY (RESPONSIBILITY.ORG), visit Responsibility.org’s site: www.responsibility.org
Whether you are a kid, tween, teen or adult, saying NO can be hard—especially if you are saying it to a friend, colleague, or loved one. It takes a special level of courage for young people especially to stand up for what they know is right, and that is where we as parents and educators come in.
For the most part, kids KNOW what is right and what is not. But peer pressure can wiggle its way into almost any temptation. Using facts that go hand-in-hand with what kids are currently learning in school helps to bridge the gap between right and wrong. For example, kids learn about the brain and its functions in elementary and middle school. They learn that the brain controls their movements, heartbeat, instincts, balance and decision making skills. But do they know what happens to their brain when alcohol is introduced? To a point, they probably do. They learn that too much alcohol means that people might start talking or acting weird or falling over. But do they know why?
Understanding how alcohol affects the brain—and could potentially damage their developing brain—will help draw that line between right and wrong. And it will help build up the courage to say NO to something that they absolutely know is not a good idea. All of this on top of the fact that they know that alcohol is illegal for anyone under 21.
Here is an example:
Did you know that when some people drink too much alcohol, they become dizzy and lose coordination? They stumble, trip, and fall. This is because the part of their brain that controls balance—called the cerebellum—contains over 50% of the brain’s neurons, which help send signals to the body that make walking, talking, and speaking clearly possible!
Conversations like this are not difficult to have—they fit in well with science or health education. They are based on facts and are easy to understand. Most of all, they make it very clear that saying NO to underage drinking is the right choice.
And conversations—those between parents and kids AND between teachers and kids—work. Since 1991, the number of 8th grade students in the U.S. who reported drinking in the past month declined by 68 percent. And 77 percent of 8th graders report never having consumed alcohol.
TEACHERS + PARENTS + CONVERSATIONS = KIDS who have the knowledge and courage to say YES to a healthy lifestyle and NO to underage drinking.
You can read all about how alcohol affects the developing brain by checking out the materials available from Ask, Listen, Learn. These are free lessons plans and videos for classrooms and teachers and resources for parents to start conversations with their kids at home.
We love being a partner of Classroom Champions, especially during a month dedicated to courage! We know that it takes hard work and courage for all of the mentors to reach their goals, and are excited that they are encouraging kids to do the same.