The First Sip: Your Child's Exposure to Alcohol

Reviewed Aug 31, 2017

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Summary

  • Be a good role model.
  • Build your child's self-esteem.
  • Begin alcohol education early.
  • Be there for your teen.

Ask most people about their first experience with alcohol, and you might be surprised to learn that their parents were the first ones to offer a taste to them as children. "When I was 10, my dad gave me a few sips of his cold beer after helping him with the lawn," says John Walker. Veronica Reed remembers having what her mother called a "short one" on special occasions such as New Year's or birthdays.

John and Veronica, who now have children themselves, question their parents' attitudes about alcohol. "I have to wonder what message I would be sending my son and daughter if I allowed them to have an occasional sip," says Veronica. As she suspects, her role as a parent is most important in determining how her children will handle the temptation to drink alcohol and whether or not they become responsible drinkers later in life. So how do you send the right message?

Be a good role model

Do you immediately pour yourself a drink to unwind after work? Do you go a little overboard at family celebrations and parties? Be aware of the messages you are sending to your children. For example, managing your stress through exercise or a hobby shows your child that you don't have to drink to relax. Choosing soda over beer at parties and other social gatherings teaches your child that you don't need to drink to have fun.

Build your child's self-esteem

"Just saying no" will be much easier for your child if she has a positive self-image and strong sense of self. You can help your child develop these characteristics by emphasizing her strengths, reinforcing healthy behaviors, and loving her unconditionally. Empower her by giving her the opportunity to make decisions for herself (such as what to wear or eat). Show your child that you respect and trust her by giving her more freedom and responsibility as she grows older.

Begin alcohol education early

Preschool through the early elementary years is a good time to use "teachable moments" to talk about alcohol. For example, if a beer commercial comes on TV, ask your child a thoughtful question like "Do you think drinking beer makes people popular or more fun?" At this age range, children also are interested in how to keep the body healthy and how to avoid harmful substances.

From about age 9, begin candid discussions with your child about the risks of alcohol use, how it affects the body, and why it is especially dangerous to growing bodies. Use real-life events from newspaper articles or TV shows to initiate conversations and illustrate the facts. Friends and "fitting in" becomes increasingly important at this age. Find time to talk casually about alcohol and friends and teach your child how to say no.

Be there for your teen

According to the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, "Kids who learn a lot about the risks of drugs and alcohol from their parents are up to 50 percent less likely to use than those who do not." Your teen needs and wants your support, involvement, and guidance even though he may not act like he does. Take a firm stance on alcohol use and set rules. But, also give him your trust and the freedom to make choices. Doing so will empower your teen to make the right decision when offered his first sip.

By Christine Martin

Summary

  • Be a good role model.
  • Build your child's self-esteem.
  • Begin alcohol education early.
  • Be there for your teen.

Ask most people about their first experience with alcohol, and you might be surprised to learn that their parents were the first ones to offer a taste to them as children. "When I was 10, my dad gave me a few sips of his cold beer after helping him with the lawn," says John Walker. Veronica Reed remembers having what her mother called a "short one" on special occasions such as New Year's or birthdays.

John and Veronica, who now have children themselves, question their parents' attitudes about alcohol. "I have to wonder what message I would be sending my son and daughter if I allowed them to have an occasional sip," says Veronica. As she suspects, her role as a parent is most important in determining how her children will handle the temptation to drink alcohol and whether or not they become responsible drinkers later in life. So how do you send the right message?

Be a good role model

Do you immediately pour yourself a drink to unwind after work? Do you go a little overboard at family celebrations and parties? Be aware of the messages you are sending to your children. For example, managing your stress through exercise or a hobby shows your child that you don't have to drink to relax. Choosing soda over beer at parties and other social gatherings teaches your child that you don't need to drink to have fun.

Build your child's self-esteem

"Just saying no" will be much easier for your child if she has a positive self-image and strong sense of self. You can help your child develop these characteristics by emphasizing her strengths, reinforcing healthy behaviors, and loving her unconditionally. Empower her by giving her the opportunity to make decisions for herself (such as what to wear or eat). Show your child that you respect and trust her by giving her more freedom and responsibility as she grows older.

Begin alcohol education early

Preschool through the early elementary years is a good time to use "teachable moments" to talk about alcohol. For example, if a beer commercial comes on TV, ask your child a thoughtful question like "Do you think drinking beer makes people popular or more fun?" At this age range, children also are interested in how to keep the body healthy and how to avoid harmful substances.

From about age 9, begin candid discussions with your child about the risks of alcohol use, how it affects the body, and why it is especially dangerous to growing bodies. Use real-life events from newspaper articles or TV shows to initiate conversations and illustrate the facts. Friends and "fitting in" becomes increasingly important at this age. Find time to talk casually about alcohol and friends and teach your child how to say no.

Be there for your teen

According to the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, "Kids who learn a lot about the risks of drugs and alcohol from their parents are up to 50 percent less likely to use than those who do not." Your teen needs and wants your support, involvement, and guidance even though he may not act like he does. Take a firm stance on alcohol use and set rules. But, also give him your trust and the freedom to make choices. Doing so will empower your teen to make the right decision when offered his first sip.

By Christine Martin

Summary

  • Be a good role model.
  • Build your child's self-esteem.
  • Begin alcohol education early.
  • Be there for your teen.

Ask most people about their first experience with alcohol, and you might be surprised to learn that their parents were the first ones to offer a taste to them as children. "When I was 10, my dad gave me a few sips of his cold beer after helping him with the lawn," says John Walker. Veronica Reed remembers having what her mother called a "short one" on special occasions such as New Year's or birthdays.

John and Veronica, who now have children themselves, question their parents' attitudes about alcohol. "I have to wonder what message I would be sending my son and daughter if I allowed them to have an occasional sip," says Veronica. As she suspects, her role as a parent is most important in determining how her children will handle the temptation to drink alcohol and whether or not they become responsible drinkers later in life. So how do you send the right message?

Be a good role model

Do you immediately pour yourself a drink to unwind after work? Do you go a little overboard at family celebrations and parties? Be aware of the messages you are sending to your children. For example, managing your stress through exercise or a hobby shows your child that you don't have to drink to relax. Choosing soda over beer at parties and other social gatherings teaches your child that you don't need to drink to have fun.

Build your child's self-esteem

"Just saying no" will be much easier for your child if she has a positive self-image and strong sense of self. You can help your child develop these characteristics by emphasizing her strengths, reinforcing healthy behaviors, and loving her unconditionally. Empower her by giving her the opportunity to make decisions for herself (such as what to wear or eat). Show your child that you respect and trust her by giving her more freedom and responsibility as she grows older.

Begin alcohol education early

Preschool through the early elementary years is a good time to use "teachable moments" to talk about alcohol. For example, if a beer commercial comes on TV, ask your child a thoughtful question like "Do you think drinking beer makes people popular or more fun?" At this age range, children also are interested in how to keep the body healthy and how to avoid harmful substances.

From about age 9, begin candid discussions with your child about the risks of alcohol use, how it affects the body, and why it is especially dangerous to growing bodies. Use real-life events from newspaper articles or TV shows to initiate conversations and illustrate the facts. Friends and "fitting in" becomes increasingly important at this age. Find time to talk casually about alcohol and friends and teach your child how to say no.

Be there for your teen

According to the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, "Kids who learn a lot about the risks of drugs and alcohol from their parents are up to 50 percent less likely to use than those who do not." Your teen needs and wants your support, involvement, and guidance even though he may not act like he does. Take a firm stance on alcohol use and set rules. But, also give him your trust and the freedom to make choices. Doing so will empower your teen to make the right decision when offered his first sip.

By Christine Martin

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, quizzes, and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical, health care, psychiatric, psychological or behavioral health care advice. Nothing contained on the Achieve Solutions site is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care professional. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have concerns about your health, please contact your health care provider.  ©2017 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

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