Positive guidance – it’s one of the greatest powers parents have. As your kid’s number one role model, it’s up to you to shape their perception of right and wrong.
Kids are interested in what’s going on around them, and seeing how their role models use alcohol is part of this. Research shows that parents have the greatest impact on shaping their kid’s attitude to alcohol and future drinking behaviour. The role alcohol plays in your life will have an effect on them too.
As a parent your teen will challenge you about your own drinking behaviours. Teens want to be treated like adults, which may mean discussing drinking alcohol at home, asking to take alcohol to parties or drinking with their friends.
Therefore, it is important that you set the right example and that you have open and frank conversations with them about your expectations.
How to shape your kids’ attitudes towards alcohol
- They might ask you about alcohol and what it’s like to drink it. Always answer honestly, but avoid glorifying intoxication.
- Explain the importance of drinking moderately and why only adults should consume it. Ask them how they feel about their parents drinking alcohol. What attitudes do they have about alcohol? This will help you reflect on your own drinking behaviours, open up communication with your kids and set boundaries for the future.
- Inevitably, your teen will ask if you’ve been drunk. Be upfront and honest – you want them to be honest with you. Admit that you’ve learnt a lesson and that you expect your kids, your friends and yourself to act responsibly.
- Lead by example, and limit the amount of alcohol you consume. If you don’t want your kid to think drinking to excess is acceptable, display self-restraint and demonstrate responsible drinking.
- Encourage friends and family to be good role models for your kids.
- Don’t drink alcohol every day, and encourage non-alcoholic gatherings with friends and family. Alcohol should never be the focus of a get together – show your kids that you can enjoy yourself without alcohol.
- Avoid people and places that will have a negative impact on your kids’ attitudes to alcohol.
The DrinkWise DELAY five point plan also provides tips and advice on how to be a positive influence and decrease the risk of your teen misusing alcohol.
DrinkWise - Kids and Alcohol Don't Mix brochure