Last week I was invited to the launch of Drinkaware’s new campaign aimed at helping parents think about when and how to talk to their children about alcohol. I was keen to go along and hear what they had to say even though I suspected my children may be a little bit small to start the dialogue. Interesting though, the speakers there felt that at a young age it’s really useful to start empowering children to have confidence in their decision making which has a significant impact later on in their youth.
Did you know that the average age of a child’s first alcoholic drink is just under fourteen? I was surprised by this. Evidence also seems to suggest that the earlier children start drinking, the more they will drink and the more frequently they will drink. That gives some food for thought especially as many parents consider the continental approach to alcohol much healthier. What I also found quite surprising is that the biggest influence on a child’s attitude to alcohol comes from the home, it’s what they observe you doing rather than their peers. Drinkaware suggest that it’s best to try and keep childhood an alcohol free zone, something which as somebody who hardly ever drinks, I agree with fully.
There are lots of things you can do to encourage your children to have a good attitude towards alcohol and many simply relate to arming them with information and empowering them with the confidence in their own decisions. I thought the idea of an organised activity on a Saturday and/ or Sunday morning was especially good though as it gives your teenager a good excuse when they are being pressured by their peers: ‘ no I cant have another alcopop (or whatever they drink) as I have band practice/ football etc. in the morning.’
Another good tip that I have filed away, is to make sure that your teenagers know what to do if they find themselves in the situation where one of their friends has had far too much to drink. The idea of responsibility and keeping their friends safe is absolutely critical. Any amount of alcohol puts kids under increased risk of sexual attack, robbery and so on. If your children know that you are just a phone call away if any situation arises and that you are not going to judge anyone then that’s what good parenting is all about.
If there is one thing I learnt from the day, its that I want to make sure my children are educated about the dangers of alcohol and that they feel confident about themselves and their decisions. You can find out more here on the Drinkaware website. This is a topic that is worth discussing with your partner, friends and family and I don’t think it’s too early to start.
Drinkaware also emailed me some information about free resources they have available which I think could be of interest:
www.drinkaware.co.uk/parents – the new parents section of the Drinkaware website includes a video where you can shape/practise tricky conversations with a 13 year old about alcohol. You can also order the parents leaflet from our online shop – https://resources.drinkaware.co.uk/leaflets/Your-kids-alcohol-leaflet If you register you get £85 free credit which could provide 170 parents leaflets.
In:tuition schools programme
Drinkaware’s new life skills education programme In:tuition is available at www.intuitionkit.com Schools can register for free access to 10 primary and 11 secondary lessons. The programme aims to build the esteem, confidence and decision-making skills of students aged 9 to 14 so they can make more informed decisions about a range of issues – including alcohol, sex and relationships, health, etc. The website has an explanatory video and schools can email@example.com if interested in training or being one of our Drinkaware pilot schools.
Disclosure; travel expenses and an information packed goody bay were provided for me to attend this event.