10 Tips for Parents on how to deal with teenagers who want to drink alcohol

10 Tips for Parents on  how to deal with teenagers who want to drink alcohol

1. Know the facts about alcohol and young people – Understand why teens drink and know the risks.

There are very good reasons why young people shouldn’t drink.

Your child will respond better to facts than vague warnings.

2. Let them know your values and what you expect – Give a clear message that you don’t approve of underage drinking: “I don’t want you to drink until you are older” and explain why. Using some facts about underage drinking can help you to explain why you feel this way.

3. Make sure they hear that you care about them – While your teen may not like your rules, deep down, no teen is unhappy to know that their parents care enough to keep them safe.

4. Challenge ‘normal’ drinking – “Everyone drinks”  “We all went through this phase”  “It’s part of having fun”. It can be hard to argue against the strong messages children get from the media, marketing messages, their friends and from what they see around them. You can feel like a lone voice in the crowd. But drinking alcohol puts young people at risk in lots of different ways. Don’t miss the opportunity to teach your kids about the downsides of drinking.

5. Keep a close relationship with your child – It can be hard to find ways to stay close to your child
as they grow older, but it’s important to try and keep a close relationship. Spend time with them –
even being in the same room can help. Look out for moments when your child is willing to talk - during
a car journey, over dinner, while watching TV – and give them your full attention. In a study of 400
adolescents, parent involvement and adolescents’ positive regard for their parents were related to
less smoking and drinking.¹

6. Be the uncool parent – You might understand why your child is drinking - you probably drank or
got drunk yourself when you were their age. But the evidence shows that the best way to keep your
child safe is to check what your child is doing and to give a clear message of disapproval about
underage drinking. It may make you unpopular, but while they are still developing, it’s best to help
them avoid drinking situations.

7. Don’t give your child alcohol – Some parents believe that giving their child some wine during
dinner or a limited amount of alcohol to drink at a party will help them to become responsible drinkers.
In fact, research suggests that children who are supplied alcohol by their parents may drink more, as
they feel they have ‘permission’ to drink and are more likely to drink in a harmful way.²

8. Have rules and boundaries – Make sure your child knows what you expect and what will happen
if they break the rules. Rules will probably work better if you explain to your child why they are needed
and ideally get their agreement. Our Guide to setting rules around alcohol can help.

9. Set a good example – “Children who see their parents drunk are more likely to get drunk, drink
underage and binge drink.”
 Be conscious of staying within the weekly guidelines and keep your drinking away from your
 Avoid drinking at home before going out socially.
 Don’t let them see you drunk.

 Be aware of the messages you are giving about alcohol - don’t laugh about drunken exploits
and hangovers in front of them or say things that reinforce the idea that drinking is the best
way to relax, handle stress, take time out or enjoy yourself.

10. Keep an eye on your child – Knowing where your child is, what they are doing and who they are
with is important. Research has found that young people who are not regularly monitored by their
parents are four times more likely to use alcohol or drugs. They are also more likely to begin drinking
at a younger age, tend to drink more and are more likely to develop harmful drinking patterns. 5 Get to
know their friends, check that they are where they say they are, insist they keep their phone on and
charged, be available to collect them. Watch how much money they have, look for signs that they may
be drinking – like taking rucksacks to parties or drink going missing from your home.

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