At some point, most likely well before they reach the age of 18, your child will be faced with the choice about whether to drink alcohol. As a parent, you hold tremendous influence over how that decision is carried out. If you haven’t yet had “the talk”, here are some tips on how to start the conversation now.
Start talking about alcohol early on
While many parents may feel that “booze talk” should be reserved for teenagers, a recent study has shown that this moment may arrive earlier than previously expected. According to a 2015 report released by the American Academy of Pediatrics, children should be warned about the dangers associated with alcohol by the age of 9.
Although this may seem young to some, 9 is the age when kids start to form positive opinions about alcohol, due in part to drinking being depicted as a fun and social activity on ads and other entertainment platforms. You can break the “booze equals fun” equation by raising the topic when it naturally comes up, making it a comfortable subject for your kids to bring up with you.
Answer their questions
Kids are naturally curious and will ask questions - allow them. By navigating tough topics thoughtfully and calmly, you establish yourself as a pool of knowledge and a support structure for your child. Instead of postponing your answers for a bigger, more formal discussion, address questions as they are raised and always be prepared to engage.
Lay out the facts rather than the myths
While your opinion will always be important to your kids, this is not the optimal time to make it known. Instead of providing your thoughts on the matter, present facts so that your kids can form their own opinions and make informed decisions in future.
The ‘facts’ needn’t be the hard statistics of teen alcohol use used as a scare tactic. It could be as simple as explaining that, up until 25, the brain is still developing and unpacking the impacts that alcohol can have on it at a young age.
Watch your tone and body language
Kids will often test you in order to gauge your reaction before trusting you with deeper concerns. When put into this position, avoid using a negative tone, as this will shut down the conversation and put your child on the defensive.
If you find yourself triggered, take a moment to step back and take a deep breath as opposed to preaching or attacking. Maintain eye contact throughout the discussion and keep your arms open to show that you are receptive to what is being communicated to you.
Ask them questions
Find out what your kids know by asking them what they have heard about alcohol from other sources. Asking questions will also help your kids to plan for future situations that they may find themselves in and help them form coping mechanisms to deal with pressures that they may face.
By presenting real-life scenarios, kids will be better prepared for the peer pressure that they will inevitably experience later in life.
For more information on underage drinking and other alcohol abuse issues visit: Aware.org.za
This post is sponsored by Aware.org produced by BrandStudio24 for Parent24.