As a parent you might feel there is little you can do to prevent your kids from experimenting with alcohol or getting pulled into drinking unwisely. However, you have more influence over your child than you may realise and talking openly with your kids is hugely important.
Childhood plays a large role in influencing future alcohol behaviours, as a parent/carer we teach our children by the examples we set. You can encourage sensible attitudes to drinking through being a good role model yourself.
It is important that you talk openly about the use of alcohol. By discussing the harms and risks, you are providing your children with accurate information so they can make smart choices about their health. You should be prepared to set some rules around your child’s use of alcohol.
Young people aged 11-17 are more likely to begin experimenting with alcohol and to start drinking on a more regular basis. Teenagers like to test rules and your boundaries, this is a natural part of ‘growing up’, drinking alcohol maybe a way of doing this.
70% of children surveyed in Lancashire who drink alcohol say they are given it by their own parents (2017).
Starting to drink so young is more damaging than many teenagers realise and alcohol can have serious effects on developing brains and bodies, as well as leaving teenagers vulnerable to unsafe situations.
Young people drink for many different reasons.
43% of young people think it is normal to get drunk and 41% of young people think getting drunk is fun.
Often people make light about their first experiences with alcohol. However, three in ten young people who have drunk alcohol (30%) have experienced a negative consequence of their drinking.
Even drinking to get drunk occasionally can have serious consequences as it increases risky behaviour. Teenagers who get drunk are far more likely to:
So always encourage your kids to look out for each other, plan how they are going to get home before going out and to keep enough money aside in case of emergencies.
Dr Sarah Jarvis discusses these risks from a GP’s perspective.
If you are worried that your child is already experimenting with alcohol here are some suggestions you could follow to help protect your child.
Try and work out some ground rules together which could include:
Children and their parents or carers are advised that an alcohol-free childhood is the healthiest and best option. However, if children drink alcohol underage, it should not be until at least the age of 15 years.
If young people aged 15 to 17 years consume alcohol, it should always be with the guidance of a parent or carer or in a supervised environment.
Parents and young people should be aware that drinking, even at age 15 or older, can be hazardous to health and that not drinking is the healthiest option for young people.