Talking to kids about alcohol and setting the boundaries and expectations to keep them safe can be a daunting task. DrinkWise has developed a 5 Point Plan to provide practical advice on how to be a positive influence and delay your child’s introduction to alcohol.
DELAY 5 point plan
Research shows that your children believe that you should teach them about alcohol. They trust you and rely on your for information and advice.
Talk to them
Keep the lines of communication open with your kids. Discuss the fact that not everyone drinks. Be aware that young people are likely to have a favourable perception of the social benefits of alcohol – they seek to drink believing it will help them fit in, and need to know that they can fit in without it. Highlight that they won’t be alone if they don’t drink – not everybody’s doing it.
Lead by example
Kids absorb your drinking, so be a positive role model by using alcohol responsibly. Talk to your child about your alcohol consumption and the rules and boundaries you follow. And remember, there’s always the option of not drinking at all.
Parents who drink and have more lenient attitudes towards alcohol are more likely to have adolescents who consume alcohol at risky and high levels.
Try not to make alcohol the focus of every family gathering or celebration. Make a point of having alcohol-free events to demonstrate that you can enjoy yourself without drinking.
Listen and engage
Be aware of and show interest in upcoming activities, and get to know your child’s friends, and their friends’ parents. Talking to the other parents about your views on alcohol enables you to develop a common position and one strong, united voice. If they don’t agree, at least they know your position and will be better placed to respect your decision.
Be comfortable that if you do choose to delay your child’s introduction to alcohol, you’re in the majority.
A good relationship
Work on developing and maintaining a good parent-child relationship based on clear and open communication. Emotional warmth and support, trust, involvement and attachment are associated with lower levels of adolescent alcohol misuse. Be there to support them as hormonal changes, school commitments and peer influence build.
Delaying your child’s first drink requires you to make your expectations regarding alcohol very clear – not just to your child, but to the other adult influencers in their lives as well. Think about you gave you your first drink – have you had a chat to the equivalent person in your child’s life?
Involve your child in the development of the rules to help them understand why they exist in the first place.