I never really touched alcohol until I was 22 which may be surprising to some - it simply never appealed to me and being pregnant at 18 and then again at 20 was also a contributing factor. I recall being handed a bottle at a house party when I was about 15 but after a few sips I left it on a table and didn't return to it, intentionally!
Now as a parent to tweens, one of which started secondary school recently, I do wonder when they will be exposed to alcohol via friends so I feel it's important to make them aware of the affects underage drinking can have. The new resources from Drinkaware are incredibly useful as they not only encourage parents to discuss the risks of alcohol consumption, but the way the facts are presented make them appealing for children to learn too.
The ‘Your Kids and Alcohol’ leaflet certainly grabs your attention with a bold red cover and plenty of imagery throughout. It is split into several sections making it easy to read and it's very informative. I've always been very open with the Mini Mes, I'm happy to discuss anything at all they bring up, and this leaflet provides great advice on the subject and also highlights how beneficial conversations with your kids are. Discussing alcohol from an early age can help to create a sensible relationship with it in the long run so it's probably worth downloading a free copy for a quick read if you're going to be approaching the subject soon.
The leaflet covers the reasons why children may drink which includes peer and media pressure, stress, pushing boundaries and copying role models. Knowing this may even enable you to lower the chances of your own child drinking. I've had the occasional glass of wine when we have been out for a meal or when I've been relaxing at a weekend so they have seen me drinking responsibly, they know it's important to watch your intake and they will hopefully follow suit when the time comes. I have however made them aware of the negative side too, as does the leaflet, so they understand it can make you very unwell or cause long term health issues like headaches, sleep problems, weight loss/gain etc if not worse. The Mr's job heavily relies upon him having a driving licence so we've also discussed drink driving and the dangerous implications of doing so.
Other sections in the booklet include why it's important to talk about alcohol, what to say during a talk, the different approaches to take on the subject for different aged children, tips on answering questions, the law and a list of useful contact details on the reverse for extra support. It really covers everything that you need for a talk with additional information available online too.Minxy is very sensible, independent and is not often led by others so I think she could turn offers of alcohol down in the future but I still feel it's important to talk about. It's not something that has to be taught at school so I'd rather provide the information myself than her seek it from elsewhere, which may be less reliable. If I'm happy to talk with the children now I think they will find it easier to reach out to me in the future as and when required, which is exactly what I hope for.
The interactive quiz for children helps them to learn about the risks associated with underage drinking. It's a fact or fiction card with pull out tabs which reveal the answers and there is also more detailed information on the back. The competitive aspect of this resource is going to appeal to children as they will enjoy seeing if they are correct with their guesses.
I gave Minxy this card to have a go at and I think she was surprised by the long lasting damage underage drinking can cause in areas she didn't expect. She's very academic and just beginning to get into beauty so the fact it could affect her complexion and exam results is likely to put her, and probably many other teens, off alcohol as they want to look and feel good. Image is very important at that age. I will definitely keep this to hand, along with the leaflet to use with Jamster in the near future also.
With it being the festive period and alcohol being purchased on a large scale for parties it's the perfect opportunity to start a discussion.
For information and advice on talking to your child about alcohol go to Drinkaware.co.uk/underagedrinking
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