Besides having a traditional glass of wine on Fridays, drinking alcohol in adolescence is not recommended. The law forbids serving or selling alcohol to those, who have not reached the age of 18. The decision regarding this age is not arbitrary or capricious. Alcohol consumption in childhood and adolescence has a far-reaching effect on brain development, hormonal system and sexual development. In addition to these problems, alcohol consumption among physically or mentally young, may lead to suicidal thoughts.
So how to explain children and teenagers why alcohol consumption is so dangerous for them? If parents teach their children how to cross the road safely and how to ride a bike – why can’t they teach their children how to drink responsibly?
- Give an example. Parents are important role models for their children. Studies show that in families that drink moderately during holidays and celebrations, children will learn that alcohol can be a part of the lifestyle, rather than a desirable prohibition.
- Respect your children and accept them. Avoid criticism and anger. When children have a good relationship with their parents, they tend to feel good about themselves. Studies show that when teenagers have a close and supportive relationship with their parents – they tend to postpone drinking until they become older
- End the conflict. Studies also prove the opposite. When the relationship between parent and their children is full of conflicts and alienation, teenagers are more likely to abuse alcohol and develop drinking-related problems.
- How to establish good communication with your children? Show them that you care. Although teenagers tend to be angry and furious, they still need to know and feel that they are important to their parents. Spend time with them on a regular basis, one on one, preferably without screens in the background or other distractions. Talk, rather than demand. Share instead of preaching. Listen and be heard. Yes, listen!
- Don’t refer to alcohol as a compensation. If alcohol is something you desperately need after having a lousy or an amazing day at work, it is likely that your children will act the same way. A great solution to stressful situations, while serving as an example for your children, can be physical training, listening to music or a heart-to-heart conversation with a close person.
- Think about the message – if you present alcohol as something glamorous and as a proof of adulthood or manhood so would your children. Alcohol is just alcohol. Moderate consumption is beneficial and joyful, while excessive consumption is harmful and dangerous. The opposite is also true – if you refer to alcohol as a forbidden fruit or something that you should not talk about, then your children will want it even more and drinking will become a way to show their independence.
- When is it ok to start? The recommended age to start talking with your children about alcohol is during elementary school. You should adjust the information according to your children’s age. Speak openly and honestly.