Talking it through

Did you know?
Alcohol is responsible for a very high proportion of hospitalisations in teens and young people

Talking it through

You have more influence over your child's drinking than you might think.

Research with young people in 2009 revealed that 86 per cent of teenagers would be willing to discuss alcohol with their parents, and almost three quarters said that their parents could influence them to reduce their drinking.

The new laws governing the supply of alcohol to minors in private homes are also designed give you more control over when, and how, your children are exposed to alcohol.

But how do you go about it? Here are five things you can do to influence the drinking habits of the young people in your own life.

  1. Think about your own drinking

    Consider moderating your own alcohol intake, because children watch and learn from their parents habits. Say no to some of the drinks that are offered to you, and make sure you offer non-alcoholic drinks as well as alcoholic choices to your friends when they come over.

  2. Think about how you talk about alcohol

    Just as young people watch how much you drink, they listen to what you say about it. Ending a stressful day with the words ‘I need a drink' send your children a strong message that you think alcohol is a good way to solve - or forget - life's pressures. Think, too, about whether you might be glamourising alcohol by telling stories about your own or other people's drinking.

  3. Work on your relationships

    Young people who believe that their parents care about and support them drink less than those who don't. Taking the time to talk to your teenager about what's going on in their life, and supporting them as they face the challenges of adolescence will strengthen your relationship, and reduce the risk that they'll drink to unsafe levels.

  4. Set the ground rules

    Be clear with your teenager about whether you will or will not allow them to drink alcohol. If you do decide to allow some alcohol, be clear about how much is acceptable (and check out our tips for reducing the risks they face if they do drink). And don't forget to tell your child about why you've set the rules you've set.

  5. Set some consequences

    As well as being clear about the rules, it's important to be clear about what will happen if the rules are broken. Consequences will differ from family to family - you need to decide what you think is best. But whatever you decide, make sure that your child knows what the consequence will be, and make sure you follow through if the rules are broken.