Encourage Assertiveness

Student walks across University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus
Encourage Assertiveness

One of the most important ways for your children to stay safe is to develop assertiveness. Whether it’s related to being assertive and standing firm in their plans for how to deal with being offered alcohol or in how much they’ll drink, assertiveness will help minimize the risks they’ll have.

College students often drink not because they have been pressured by their friends into drinking, but rather because they think everyone is doing it and that it’s an appropriate thing to do. Talk to your student about how assertive they are now with their peers and how they can strengthen that assertiveness.

Watch these videos to find out about some tactic students use to avoid high-risk behavior.

Situations Where Assertiveness Is Important

Certain situations can be more challenging than others. Talk with your student about how they would react and how they can safely navigate the following examples.

Your student is at an activity with friends. The host had not planned on serving alcohol, but someone else brought it.

Your student is pressured into driving while drunk or into getting in a car with someone who is drunk.

The designated driver for the group doesn't do his job and drinks at the party, but says they are sober enough to drive. Your student feels pressure to ride with them.

With some roommates, your student goes to a party where alcohol is present. Your student is offered a drink. Upon refusal, jokes are made about "needing to get used to college" or "needing to grow up."

Peopler pressure your student to play some typeo of drinking game.

Your student is at a party and people pressure them to drink more than planned or wanted.

Someone visits, bringing alcohol to your student's room or apartment.

It’s very important to have open communication with your children so they feel like they can talk to you about their difficulties and successes.

However, open communication will not ensure that you get the opportunity to talk to them about alcohol, and only direct conversations will be able to give them the skills they may need.

Your input about risks and strategies coupled with your understanding of their beliefs about alcohol at the university will act as important protective factors as they start their college careers.

All three keys to successful communication are important for impactful discussions about alcohol. None of them alone can accomplish the goal of helping your student navigate the risks associated with drinking at college.

Only you know which of these are your strengths and which you need to work on. Your input can truly make a difference, especially if it is founded in university-specific information that is effectively communicated and builds upon a healthy relationship.