Even young children are aware of alcohol and its effects. Parents can talk to younger children, answer their questions and introduce the topic without overwhelming their children with information and scare tactics.
Talking to younger children about alcohol
Try to start earlier than the teen years by answering questions and introducing the subject as part of normal conversation so it doesn't build up to being a taboo subject by the time they reach their teens. Don’t sit your child down for a lecture, but do consider discussing alcohol in 'bite size' chunks at appropriate times. Often it can be easier to use prompts like soap story lines, adverts, TV programmes or magazine articles as a great way of getting conversations started.
Peer pressure can play a role in the choices children make around alcohol. Help your child to come up with a few possible responses to situations where they may be offered alcohol. Make sure they fully understand the risks associated with drinking, such as the loss of control and risky decisions people can make around sex and safety, so that they can make more informed choices about whether to try alcohol and how to use it in moderation if they do drink. If you are having a drink your child may want to try alcohol out of curiosity, to see if it has any effect on them or to feel grown up. This can be a good opportunity to talk about drinking in moderation, and find out what they think.
It may help to chat to other parents on our forums to find out how they are dealing with this issue within their family life. You can also talk to us online via our live chat service, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on our helpline on 0808 800 2222 to speak to trained family support worker.