Teaching your kids new skills can be one of life’s simplest pleasures. What can be more difficult, however, is discussing something like responsible drinking. Most parents realize talking to their kids about alcohol is a necessary part of parenthood. But when is the right time to mention the subject? And what’s the right approach?
As the infographic shows below, the earlier you can start conversations with your child about alcohol, the better. Research shows that children are much more receptive to their parents’ influence before the age of 12, so opening the floor for discussion and learning at an early age can go a long way toward encouraging your child to drink responsibly as they grow older.
It’s also important to note that only 17% of parents have actually planned how they’ll talk to their kids about alcohol. While there’s no perfect way to teach your kids about drinking responsibly, some key things you can do are:
1. Be pre-emptive:
It’s best to talk to your kids about alcohol before they find out about it from another source such as their friends. Find a time when neither you nor your child have any lingering stress that could affect the conversation. This will remove the tension from the topic and allow for a more open and involved discussion.
2. Listen to your child:
You want your kids to feel like you’re having an open discourse with them about alcohol, not a one-sided lecture. Make them feel as though they’re being heard, and not as though they’re being judged. That way you can also gauge how much they already know and what kind of things they may have tried.
3. Remind them there’s a ‘time and place’:
Teach them that drinking is a privilege and not a right, and that it’s perfectly acceptable not to drink alcohol. Show them that other things, such as a commitment the next morning, can be perfectly understandable reasons for not drinking alcohol with friends.
When did your parents talk to you about alcohol? When do you think is a good age for kids and parents to discuss alcohol and the responsibilities that go along with drinking?
For more resources and information on how to talk to your child about alcohol, check out Drinkaware’s Alcohol and your child section.