Help Your Child Have a Healthy Regard For Alcohol
A Wake-Up Call For Every Parent!
Here's advice for parents on helping their children develop a healthy relationship with alcohol
In light of drink-fuelled violence, community leaders are asking that parents regain control of their children and teach them a healthy regard for alcohol.
But just how do you do that? Adolescents rarely want to listen and it may seem inappropriate with younger children. However there are many helpful things to help instil alcohol-sense in your children.
* Learn From The Continentals
Learn from cultures like the French and Italians. They have a healthier relationship with alcohol and excessive drinking is less likely in their youth.
Their “drinking culture” is based on positive attitudes, that alcohol usually accompanies meals, plays a part in socialising rather than dominating it, is pleasurable in moderation along with good conversation. It's less likely to be drunk just for its own sake, unlike many here who drink excessively in response to stress or due to ignorance.
* Set A Good Example
Your example is crucial. If you laugh about friends getting drunk and your own drunken behaviour your children use that as their role model. Be aware of your consumption around them and if you drink excessively when out don't regale them with "funny" stories the next morning. They’ll assume that as you get paralytic - and laugh about it - they can too.
* Special Occasion Drinking
Introduce your child to a little watered-down alcohol on special occasions. This is appropriate from ages nine or 10, depending on your child's maturity, or perhaps 11 or 12. Teach them that at something like a wedding, Christmas or other celebration, people enjoy alcohol in moderation - and not to wipe out the event!
* Be Truthful
Get acquainted with the facts about alcohol use, like the size of a "unit". Introduce such concepts into dinner-time conversations when you're enjoying a drink. Be honest about the health issues of excessive drinking but don't be sensationalist.
* Don't Turn Them Into A Party Joke
Many parents think it's amusing when they get a child tipsy at a family celebration. They joke about how “funny” their child is behaving. Turning your child into a "drunken joke" undermines their self-esteem. It may establish this as expected behaviour - to be someone who drinks and gets laughed that.
* Positive Supervision
As your child starts goings to parties make sure the parties are supervised and you know who your child is with and what they're up to. They’re much less likely to get drunk through peer pressure if they know they've got a parent keeping an eye on them.
* Open Dialogue
Keep an open line of daily communication going. Don't jump on them for small transgressions. They’ll be less likely to come to you with worries about things like the peer pressure to drink excessively if they think you’re going to freak out.
* Fun And Fulfilled
Finally, emphasise other ways of having fun. If your child derives pleasure from hobbies and interests - and sees you doing so - they’re less likely to make excessive drinking a regular thing. Even the best-behaved teenager may experiment with a little too much alcohol. However if they have good things going on in their life they’re unlikely to use alcohol as the way out of a boring or stressful life.
Published in The Express newspaper