April 6, 2021 – As kids begin to notice unhealthy behaviors in others, such as smoking, drinking alcohol, eating a lot of sugar, not eating vegetables, or drinking too much soda, talk about it. Take the opportunity to talk about why people may make unhealthy choices and how your child can make healthy decisions based on what their bodies need. One study found that children as young as 3 are able to recognize alcoholic beverages and differentiate them from other drinks, so they need to hear that kids should not drink alcohol because it harms their brains and bodies. 

Kids see an average of 23 instances of alcohol advertising in the media every month. One study found alcohol played some role in the plot of one out of every 11 cartoons and appeared in that cartoon an average of three times. Multiple studies conducted over a few different years found between 52 and 57% of popular contemporary G/PG movies depict alcohol use. Use these exposures as an opportunity to talk about fictional characters’ behavior. Compare healthy drinking habits to unhealthy ones. You could say, “That character seemed to have a drink every time he was sad. What are some other ways he could have dealt with those feelings?”

Inoculation theory has been shown to be a powerful tool in protecting kids against all kinds of risky behaviors, including smoking, binge drinking, and unprotected sex. In fact, one study found that inoculation messaging can confer so-called cross protection; messages meant to protect college students against one risky behavior (binge drinking) effectively protected them against other risky behaviors (unprotected sex) not mentioned in the messaging.

Find out more: THE ADDICTION INOCULATION: Raising Healthy Kids in a Culture of Dependence by Jessica Lahey



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