"Can talking to my kids about alcohol now, help them in the future?" The answer is yes. Children of this age need rules to guide good behavior and the information to make good choices and decisions. (Discussions about using drugs and alcohol must be in the here and now, and related to people and events the child knows about. Most children are very interested in how their bodies work, so discussions should focus on maintaining good health and avoiding things that might harm the body, like underage drinking.) Children at this age usually feel good about themselves. They like growing up, and they generally like school and all the new opportunities it provides. They still think and learn primarily by experience and they don't have a good understanding of things that will happen in the future. Facts and fantasy mingle easily; the world is viewed as the child wishes it to be and not as it actually is.
(Adults are very important both as teachers and role models. Children are generally trusting and they believe the decisions adults make for them are the right ones. Helping your child know who to trust is important. They need to understand that just because someone tells them to do something, doesn't mean it is always "right.") It is during these young years where parents are talking to their young children, that important impressions can be made regarding alcohol and other dangerous drugs.
Sources: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Intergovernmental and Interagency Affairs, Educational Partnerships and Family Involvement Unit, Tips for Parents on Keeping Children Drug Free, Washington, D.C., 2003.; The Partnership at drugfree.org.