Parents are influential role models for their teenager. Set a good example for your child by exercising moderation around alcohol, not drinking and driving, and showing them ways to celebrate and have fun that don’t involve alcohol.
Set expectations with your teen about drinking by:
- asking them what they know about the effects of alcohol
- finding out what their views are on getting drunk and using drugs
- asking them if their friends drink often
- asking if there will be alcohol at the party they are going to
- asking if there will be adults supervising or controlling access to the alcohol.
The safest way to minimise the risks associated with drinking is to avoid alcohol all together, particularly if your teen is under 18. You can work with them to develop ways to manage peer pressure they may experience when it comes to drinking. For example, if they are going to a party but don’t want to drink, help them come up with an answer they feel comfortable with when people ask them why they aren’t getting drunk.
You could also want to speak to the parents of your teen’s friends – presenting a united front on under age drinking can be hugely helpful. It’s worth noting that it can be against the law in some states to supply alcohol to anyone under age 18.
Taking precautions around drinking
If your teen understands the risks and decides to drink anyway, safety should be your first priority. Make sure they know how to drink and stay safe. This includes:
- pacing their drinks - sipping and savouring
- making sure they eat before or during a party
- drinking a glass of water in between drinks
- arranging transport that doesn’t involve them driving
- not ‘pre-loading’ (drinking) before they go out
- keeping to recommended limits of two standard drinks per day.
If you can discuss alcohol use with your teen openly and without being judgemental, they’ll be more likely to tell you honestly what’s going on. That way, you’ll be able to intervene if you need to, particularly if your teen is at risk in some way.
Knowing where to get help and learning from situations that go wrong can be a valuable part of your teen’s learning how to drink safely. You’ll find plenty of support services that can help you here, and you can filter by type of service and location.