The longer a young person delays the use of alcohol, the more chance the brain has to finish developing in the vital areas of speech, emotions, reasoning, learning and memory.
This is why at Life Education we believe it is vital to educate children around the dangers of alcohol in upper primary through to secondary school so that they are empowered to make informed and responsible choices when they are faced with the decision to drink later in life.
There are also some things you can do as parents. Try speaking and having conversations with your children at the appropriate age around alcohol. These conversations are best done during incidental learning moments, for example when an issue occurs in the community or is on TV. By building trusting and open communication with your child you may find they are more open to following your advice and listening to your concerns.
Allow your child to ask you questions about alcohol and share their opinions and thoughts. In turn, ask them open-ended questions about alcohol awareness. You can look at these conversations as a way to build respect in each other’s opinions whilst also raising your own feelings and expectations in a trusting and open environment.
As parents, we can also act as positive role models when it comes to alcohol consumption. DrinkWise Australia suggests some strategies to help you educate by example. Children have eagle eyes so watch your alcohol consumption in front of your children, also occasionally you could choose to turn down the offer of alcohol in front of your children. If you are having events or family gatherings try not to make alcohol the focus or perhaps have alcohol free events.
If you are friends with other parents try having conversations with them, share your expectations and approaches to alcohol awareness with them. By engaging with other parents who are in, or have been in the same situation, you will be able to pick up some valuable advice or mutual support.
Feel a little rough around the edges on your own alcohol facts? Get the latest information on GrogWatch, a website from the Australian Drug Foundation.