How to Talk to Your Child About Four Loko

Four Loko has been getting a lot of press in the past week. This relatively new beverage on the market contains up to 12% alcohol per can, and has been pinpointed as the reason dozens of college students have been hospitalized across the country.

four_loko-resized-600There’s a reason they call it “blackout in a can.” Four Loko is an alcohol-laced energy drink, and though previous attempts at such a product have floundered, the manufacturers of Four Loko have gone all out – each 24 oz. can is equivalent to:

  • 5 (FIVE!) beers
  • a can of Red Bull
  • a shot of espresso

If that’s not unnerving enough, this thread at showcases people’s love for the $2 price tag and quick-acting effects.

So how can you broach a conversation with your kid about the dangers of this drink? Beth Fredericks, M.Ed, StudentAdvisor’s resident parent expert, offer this advice:

  1. Email the news to your child and ask if she’s heard about these drinks.  Tell her you’re not “lecturing”, but that you’re thinking about her and wanted to pass it on.  Not only for her, but in case she happens to be with other kids who might be drinking it.  *Read below and use some variation on these themes to write a sample email.
  2. Your student is coming home for Thanksgiving soon, and it’s a good time to engage her in a conversation about how it’s going. 
  • Welcome her home first. Coming home for the first time Freshman year or coming home to celebrate the first holiday is always a somewhat tense reunion. First, do no harm. Get a  hug, ask her for her dirty laundry, and don’t make a face if she calls her friends next.  Get on her schedule – “How about I take you out to breakfast tomorrow morning?” and use that time to catch up.
  • Don’t interrogate. It can be tempting to let loose with a stream of questions, especially if you’re anxious. “Is there a lot of drugs and alcohol? Are you partying alot? Do you drink these type of Red Bull drinks?” This is almost certain to make your college student feel defensive and produce tension the minute she walks in the door. Ask one question at a time and her the opportunity to answer before you ask another.
  • Respect your teenager’s views. It’s important to acknowledge your college students emerging opinions. Try just listening and then while acknowledging her view, gently put forth your own. Tell her what you’ve heard about these new alcohol/energy drinks.  Has she ever had one?
  • Maintain your family values.  What’s been most the message in your family about drugs and alcohol all along?  Health, safety, personal reputation and character.  Focusing on these things shows that you’re concerned about your student’s well-being, not just about your “rules.”

Are you nervous about talking to your kid about Four Loco because it might put ideas in her head? Or do you look forward to having the conversation so that you know she’s well informed?