Delaying the introduction of alcohol to teens for as long as possible starts at home. It’s one of the most important things you can do as a parent, but talking to your kids about alcohol and setting 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 kid’s introduction to alcohol:
D: Discuss the issues
E: Educate by example
L: Listen and engage
A: A good relationship
Y: Your expectations
DELAY five point plan
Research shows that your kids believe that you should teach them about alcohol. They trust you and rely on you for information and advice.
Discuss the issues
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 drinking alcohol.
Tip 1: highlight that not drinking is the norm for young people. Two thirds of 12-15 year olds have never had a drink of alcohol. Let older teens know they are not alone, with one in five 16-17 year olds sharing in their decision not to drink.
Educate by example
Kids Absorb Your Drinking, so be a positive role model and consume alcohol responsibly. Watch your own alcohol consumption and remember that this is the option of not drinking at all.
If alcohol does play a role in your family life, talk to your teen about how you use alcohol responsibly, and the rules and boundaries you follow.
Tip 2: 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 to your teens that you can enjoy yourself without drinking.
Listen and engage
Be aware of and show interest in your teen’s upcoming activities and discuss these together – it’s an opportunity to set clear expectations. Get to know their friends, and their friends’ parents.
Tip 3: Knowing your kid’s friends’ parents gives you the advantage of knowing where your kid is, and enables you to discuss and develop a common position on things like drinking alcohol so that your kids are hearing a strong and united voice. If they don’t agree with your position, at least they know your views and will be better placed to respect them.
Be comfortable in the knowledge that you are in the majority by choosing to delay your kid’s initiation to alcohol. Most Australians believe that it is unacceptable for under 18s to be allowed to drink at parties, and most Australian parents believe it is unacceptable for kids under 18 to drink at all.
A good relationship
Work on developing and maintaining a good parent-child relationship based on clear and open communication. Parent-child relationships characterised by emotional warmth and support, trust, involvement and attachment are associated with lower levels of adolescent alcohol misuse.
Tip 4: kids who feel their parents are caring, concerned and supportive start alcohol use later and drink less. Be there to support them as hormonal changes, school commitments and peer influence build.
Delaying your kid’s first drink requires you to make your expectations regarding alcohol very clear – not just to your kid, but to the other adult influencers in their lives as well.
Every family is different and boundaries and expectations need to be consistent with what you believe.
Tip 5: Involve your kid in the development of the rules – they need to understand why the rules exist in the first place. They may not like the rules you set but it is vital they can see what your concerns are and how you hope to address them.
Think about who bought or gave you your first drink/s – have you had a chat to the equivalent person in your kid’s life?
DrinkWise - Kids and Alcohol Don't Mix brochure