Small Talks: Do More Than Talk, Take Action

Meaningful conversations are great. They’re also just the beginning. There are a lot of everyday actions you can take—in your home and in your community—that can help address and prevent underage drinking. So get involved today. Your actions can help the children in your life gain the confidence to grow up alcohol-free.

A young boy playing a guitar as his father watches on


What you can do

Every caregiver knows: children pay attention to what you say and what you do. That doesn’t mean you have to give up alcohol to take a stand against underage drinking. Just set a good example for the kids in your life, and show them you’re paying attention to their feelings and choices about alcohol (and everything else). Take the first step with these simple actions:

In your home

  • Spend time together. Children who feel close to parents, family, and other caregivers are less likely to drink.
  • Know what they’re doing. Keep up with your child’s activities. Know who they’re with, and check on them with a call or text.
  • Watch out for stress. Monitor your child’s emotions and look for changes in their attitude and behavior. Be there for them when things get tough at school, at home, or in your community.
  • Meet your child’s friends and their parents. Help kids choose healthy relationships, and make sure fellow caregivers know your alcohol-free rules.
  • Be a good role model. Use music, laughter, exercise, help from friends and/or the support of a mental or behavioral health provider to cope with stress instead of alcohol.
  • If you drink, drink in moderation. It’s always a good idea. Show kids that family and friends can celebrate without binge drinking or getting out of control.
  • Host alcohol-free events. Show kids that family and friends can have a good time together without drinking. Celebrations and activities can be fun and alcohol-free.
  • Secure the alcohol in your home. Know how much alcohol is in your home. An inexpensive lock can secure your cans and bottles in a cabinet or fridge.
  • Reward their good decisions. Encourage kids to share their feelings, ask questions, and reach out when they need help. Show your appreciation when they do.

In your community

  • Become a volunteer. Many organizations, including community coalitions and government agencies, like your local health department, are working together with community members to prevent underage drinking and make Wisconsin communities safer.
  • Support alcohol-free community events. Communities can help people at every age have fun without drinking. Organize or support alcohol-free events like sober after-proms and lock-ins for kids. Try encouraging alcohol-free destinations, like coffee shops, libraries, and community centers, to offer late-night hours.
  • Respect Wisconsin’s laws. It’s illegal to drink and drive, and to provide a location for underage drinking. Supplying other people’s children with alcohol (even members of the military) is against the law, too, if they’re under 21. Respect Wisconsin’s laws and make sure kids understand them, too.
  • Make sure others respect the law, too. It’s illegal to sell alcohol to those under age 21. Make sure the businesses in your community are following the law. Encourage your local community leaders and law enforcement agencies to conduct alcohol age compliance checks wherever alcohol is sold.
  • Help limit access to alcohol in your community. The number of local alcohol retailers and the price of alcohol are two factors that have huge impacts on underage drinking. Let your city council or alcohol licensing review committee know you support policies that limit outlet density and increase county excise taxes on alcohol.


What if I make drinking safer for kids by letting them do it at home?



Underage drinking is never safe. Plus, research shows hosting parties or letting kids “try a sip” actually makes them more likely to drink away from home.

How Wisconsin is taking action

Our state is widely known for producing and drinking some of the nation’s best alcoholic beverages. It’s a proud part of our culture that can be enjoyed in moderation, if you’re 21 or older. But no amount of alcohol is safe for a growing brain—and in Wisconsin, too many young people are putting their health at risk. That’s why reducing underage drinking is an important part of Wisconsin’s statewide health improvement plan.

Today, the State of Wisconsin is engaging schools, health care systems, employers, government agencies, prevention coalitions, and others in a variety of local policies and programs that work to reduce excessive and underage drinking. Our goals include:

An icon of a face above text that says supporting programs that increase youth resiliency

An icon of a lock above text that says promoting policies that make alcohol less available and accessible

An icon of an ID card above text that says enforcing Wisconsin's minimum legal drinking age


An icon of a family in front of a building above text that says providing alcohol education, screenings, and treatment referrals for children and families

A multi-colored down arrow above text that says reducing alcohol use among high school students

A multi-colored down arrow above text that says reducing binge drinking among youth

A father and daughter in the woods talking during a hiking trip with their dog.Make a difference in your community

Across Wisconsin, community coalitions and other prevention partners are taking action to educate families and their communities about the dangers of underage drinking. Want to do your part? Contact the DHS Substance Use Prevention Team to learn about local efforts and how you can get involved.


Learn more

Looking to learn more about alcohol and its effects or what parents and families can do to prevent underage drinking? Check out these additional resources.

Last Revised: August 10, 2020