How to talk to your children about drinking

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How to behave with your children, whatever their age

Be prepared to about talk to your children drinking

You are the role model

Your attitude, your actions, your words, your choices have a major influence on your children even if you sometimes get the impression that they aren’t paying any attention to you.

At what age can they start to drink?

There is no particular age at which it is considered “normal” for children to start drinking. Even very young children sense – and often understand – the difference between alcoholic beverages and non-alcoholic ones.

You may think it is best to offer your child a little wine at the family dinner table on special occasions, knowing full well that he could sneak a drink behind your back.

In some societies, it is considered beneficial to introduce children to drinking under controlled circumstances. Research shows that in these societies, the incidence of alcohol-related problems is lower.

Whatever you decide, under no circumstances should alcohol abuse ever be tolerated. Not for them, and not for you.

It’s never too soon

Kids often know a lot more than we think. Six-year olds already have a pretty good idea of what is socially acceptable behaviour for adults and children when it comes to alcohol. So you can start talking to them about drinking at a very early age.

Set the example yourselves

Children tend to mimic the behaviour of those they love and admire, especially that of their parents. It’s fairly safe to assume that your drinking habits are the ones your children will adopt later on. If drinking, both socially and while dining, is a part of your lifestyle, your children will grow up assuming that this kind of drinking is natural and occurs under happy, relaxed circumstances.

When you drink, drink moderately. Your attitude will set an example for your kids. If you or others in your circle abstain from drinking, you can simply point out that this is a personal choice.

How to behave with 8 to 11-year-olds

Be firm

  • Don’t imagine that children this age do not drink, even if alcohol is not a drink for children.
  • Just because you are having a drink doesn’t mean your children may. At a family occasion, your youngster may ask for a sip. He may whine and carry on. This is the time to take a clear stand.
  • You may allow him to wet his lips or take a tiny sip from your glass, so that he won’t be tempted to try it behind your back, say, when the glasses are being cleared from the table or when she finds a bottle left behind.
  • Allowing that little taste or a sip of something cut with water gives children an experience some of them are very eager for. It does not, however, give them outright permission to drink.
  • Explain the difference between drinking in moderation and abusing alcohol.

The idea is not for you to avoid drinking because of the children, but rather to show them that there is enjoyment in drinking moderately.

Every parent has a decision to make with each child, based on the age of the child and your own principles. Whatever you decide, stick to it. Explaining the reasons for your decision will help your children develop the ability to make their own informed decisions.

At children’s parties, be sure that…

  • there are organized games and activities;
  • there are plenty of snacks, soft drinks and juices;
  • an adult is around (not necessarily present every second, but always nearby).

Never leave children alone for the entire evening without supervision.

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