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Discussing alcohol and its effects with your children is a positive way to help them understand that drinking at an early age is not a sensible thing to do.
Here are some tips on how to approach the subject and why such discussions are extremely important.
Make it a discussion:
The temptation when discussing alcohol with kids is to make it a lecture. This is definitely not the thing to do. You must aim for a conversation. By doing so you are involving your child, you are keeping their interest, and most importantly you are encouraging them to speak up about their thoughts, attitudes and understanding of alcohol.
There will be many false truths they have been told. Such comments must not be laughed at or derisively dismissed, explanations should be given why their knowledge is incorrect.
Your tone should not be judgmental or critical. It should be of an interested and lively nature that ends with you and your child having a far better understanding of the subject and any pressing alcohol issues.
Timing is crucial:
Bear in mind that discussions on alcohol should not be looked at as a once-off event. There should be multiple conversations. Don’t try and start a talk as they are just about to head out of the front door, if you are in the middle of an argument about other issues or just before bed.
Choose a time where you know there should be few interruptions and when it feels right to talk. Remember all aspects of under-age drinking and alcohol in general do not need to be raised during one conversation.
Take advantage of conversational triggers:
If your child brings up the topic of alcohol, stop what you are doing and discuss the subject in a friendly, conversational manner. If you wish to raise it, choose something that is topical such as a celebrity scandal or a storyline from a popular TV series.
You will also have stories to re-tell about family members, friends and their experiences with alcohol, use these in a positive way and remember to ask, “What do you think?” to ensure your child involves themselves in the conversation.
Honesty is the best policy:
If your child asks questions relating to your youth and alcohol, be honest. Don’t shy away from the facts. If you did drink during your teenage years let them know this, but also make it clear you wish you had not, the reasons why, and why it is important they understand the adverse reactions and consequences that drinking alcohol at an early age can bring.
Keep the topic ‘live’:
While it is important to impress on your child the dangers of alcohol, it is also important not to constantly go on about it.
Make sure your child is listening. Get feedback and feelings and set guidelines and rules that make it clear what is acceptable and what is not.
By doing this it should help you gain the respect of your child and help them understand why drinking alcohol at their age can be such a dangerous pastime.