Drinkaware: research shows one in six children drink because they are bored.
As a parent, the worst thing you can say about drinking is nothing at all.
Tips and Advice
Offering a listening ear is just as important as telling your child the facts. Reassure them you will listen to their experiences and won’t judge them if they have tried alcohol.
Having a plan will make your life easier.
Rather than waiting for something bad to happen, think about when and how you are going to start the conversation and keep it going.
“Get to know their friends’ parents. They’ll probably share your concerns”
You might think being too strict could mean they rebel. But research shows if parents set rules around drinking, young people are less likely to get drunk, so it’s important to work together to agree boundaries around alcohol.
Agree on realistic consequences if they break the rules, and follow through if necessary, but reward them if they keep to them.
If your child asks you a question about alcohol they’re open to further discussion, so use this opportunity to find out how much they already know.
Get to know their friends’ parents. They’ll probably share your concerns, so you could agree on rules around parties and supervision. You can also share anecdotes about the questions your children have asked, which might help you prepare for your own conversations.
Learning about drinking isn’t only about alcohol education.
By helping your child learn how to weigh up the pros and cons of other scenarios, like which secondary school to go to or whether to travel home alone, you can prepare them for making their own decisions about drinking.
Drinkaware research shows one in six children drink because they are bored.
If you can, offer a space where your child can spend time with their friends without alcohol or encourage them to take up a hobby.
Pick a time when neither of you feel rushed or under pressure. Avoid starting a conversation about alcohol just as your child is going to bed or walking out the door to a party.
Make sure your child knows that drinking is a decision.
Try talking about ways they can say “no” so they feel confident in that situation.
They could say they are training for a sports match the next day or that they have a rehearsal or a family event.
If an opportunity to talk to your child doesn’t present itself, try using triggers to prompt discussion.
These could include:
– At dinner time, if you’re having a drink with your meal
– At special occasions where people are drinking, like a wedding or birthday party
– When you’re unpacking the shopping or in the alcohol aisle of the supermarket
– Alcohol-related news stories, soap opera storylines, documentaries or anecdotal school stories
– Alcohol-related photos they have seen or been named in on a social networking site
– Asking what they’ve learnt about alcohol at school. If they’ve learnt about calories, you could draw the comparison between eating too much bad food and getting fat, and drinking too much and getting ill.