Kids Role Models and Alcohol
Encouraging family and friends to be great role models
Parents are their child’s most important role models, however when it comes to the role your family and friends play in your pre-teen’s life, it is important that what your child admires about them influences them positively, especially when it comes to alcohol. Communicating your rules and boundaries to your family and friends can go a long way to encouraging them to be positive role models for your pre-teen who is observing their drinking behaviours.
Do your friends and family drink alcohol responsibly around your children?
It may not always feel like it, but kids care what their parent’s think and your influence is extremely powerful. Pre-teens observe their parents drinking behaviour and attitudes and are influenced by what they see. Research shows that at this age, peer influence usually comes into play only when the parent/child relationship has broken down. Don’t underestimate your own importance in the development of safe and responsible attitudes to alcohol.
The impact of social pressures, messages in advertising, as well as celebrity behaviour is heightened during the pre-teen years. The media can portray alcohol in a way that is risky to children, especially adolescents and pre-teens. Positive role models are even more important at this time in your child’s life to challenge these portrayals. In the reverse, you don’t want people in your life that make it more difficult for you as a parent. Make sure that family and close friends know your attitude to alcohol, how you feel about role modelling and why you are taking the stance in regard to drinking alcohol responsibly around your children.
- Lead by example. If you do not want your child to drink to excess in the future, plan ahead and demonstrate responsible drinking now. Prevention is better than cure.
- Limit the amount of alcohol you consume. Limiting your intake will demonstrate the importance of moderation and self-control.
- Don’t make alcohol the focus of every celebration. Try not to include alcohol at every family gathering. Make a point of having alcohol-free barbeques to demonstrate to your children that you don’t need alcohol to enjoy yourself.
- Talk to family and friends. Let them know your thoughts on alcohol and children, but try not to preach to them about what they should or shouldn’t do. Sometimes people are simply unaware of the messages they are sending to kids about drinking and if their behaviour is pointed out to them it provides an opportunity to take steps so that it may not happen again.
- Don’t be afraid to air your disapproval. If a friend continues to drink irresponsibly around your children after you have raised your concerns, ensure that your kids hear you disapprove of their behaviour. You may openly challenge the person or, if that is not appropriate, make it clear to the kids where you stand on the issue. That should open up positive discussion and help them understand that some adult drinking behaviour is not acceptable.