Underage drinking is a significant concern for parents across the country. Many worry that their children will be exposed to alcohol when they enter high school and know that there is not much they can do about this. All they can do is talk to their kids about the dangers of drinking and hope that they will have the strength and willpower to resist, even when their friends are experimenting.
The idea of fourteen- and fifteen-year-olds drinking alcohol is scary enough, but the thought of an eleven-year-old drinking is outrageous to many people. However, a new report published in BMC Public Health has revealed that almost fourteen per cent of eleven-year-olds in the UK have already tried alcohol.
The authors of the study found that certain risk factors influence youngsterâ€™s attitudes to alcohol. They found that children were five times more likely to drink alcohol if their friends did and twice as likely to if their mothers were heavy drinkers. On the flip-side, children who have been given a negative attitude to alcohol and who viewed it as dangerous were less likely to drink.
One of the researchers said, â€œOur results suggest that 11-year-oldsâ€™ perceptions of risk, their expectancies towards alcohol, and relationships with their families were independently related to the likelihood of drinking.â€
The study found that maternal drinking was more likely to influence children than paternal drinking, and it theorised that the reason for this was that mothers tended to drink at home in front of their children while fathers may drink away from the home.
This is not the first time that parental drinking has been cited as a risk factor for childrenâ€™s own drinking habits. Those who have been brought up in a home with an alcoholic parent are more likely to develop addictions of their own in later life.
Addiction-Proofing Your Child
There is no guarantee that your child will not succumb to alcohol or drugs even if you are active in bestowing upon them the dangers of these substances. If you have had issues with alcohol, you may be under the impression that your children would not even think about drinking, but you would be wrong. Your kids may feel familiar around alcohol and might be more likely to try it because they have been exposed to it already in the home.
One of the best ways to keep your children substance-free is to show them how your life is so much better now that you are not drinking. They will remember the bad times and, if you can now show them how many good times you can all have together now that you are sober, they will begin to realise that drinking is a bad idea.
A Substance-Free Home
Removing all mood-altering substances from the house is another way to reinforce the idea that alcohol and drugs are not acceptable. Make sure you get rid of all alcohol, but also remove any unnecessary medication from the home as well. Many children begin dabbling in drugs by taking a few prescription pills that they have found in their home.
Make sure your kids know that drugs of any kind, even innocent painkillers, are only to be used as a last resort. Never allow them to believe that a pill can cure any and all ailments. Teach them that there are other ways of dealing with pain.
Be There for Your Children
Your children need love and nurturing in order to thrive. Praise them often and try not to criticise them too much. Doing this will ensure that they feel loved and will be less likely to turn to drugs or alcohol when they feel down or depressed. Instead, they will turn to you.