For some parents, talking to their teen about alcohol and setting rules and boundaries to keep them safe can be daunting. While parents understand that it’s their responsibility to create strategies and educate their kids on when, where and how to drink, it can be difficult working out how to provide this guidance.
It’s vital that parents keep the lines of communication open through the teen years. Make sure you have open and honest discussions about alcohol.
- Debunk some of the popular and unhelpful myths – e.g. not every parent provides their child with alcohol.
- Be prepared. Teens will raise the topic of alcohol if and when they’re ready to talk. Be ready to have the conversation and address their queries – that’s when they’re most open to hear your advice. Remember to plan what you want to say ahead of time.
- Be aware of your own role modelling when it comes to alcohol. As their major role models, parents play a crucial role in shaping their kid’s attitude and behaviours towards alcohol.
- Be consistent in your own behaviour. It’s easier for teens to model their behaviour on positive role models when it’s consistent.
Through the evidence-based Australian guidelines to reduce health risks from drinking alcohol, the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) provide Australians with evidence-based advice on the health effects of drinking alcohol. The Guidelines recommend that to reduce the risk of injury and other harms to health, children and people under 18 years of age should not drink alcohol. Read about the guidelines here.
Tips for talking to your teen
- Pick your time. The car can be a great time and place for constructive conversations – they’re a captive audience and there’s also the benefit that they don’t have to be facing you, which can make things less awkward.
- Draw the line between adult and teen activities. Don’t be afraid to let your teen know that some things aren’t appropriate for them. If you believe that drinking alcohol is only something that adults do, make sure they hear your views on the matter.
- Challenge unfounded statements. If your teen tells you that ‘everyone else drinks’, ask them to provide proof.
- Challenge their beliefs. Be aware that teens are likely to want to drink alcohol believing it will help them fit in – they need to know they can fit in without drinking.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Your GP or local health professional is available for you and your teen.
- Take a look at the DrinkWise DELAY 5 Point Plan for more tips on how to structure the conversation.
DrinkWise - Kids and Alcohol Don't Mix brochure