Alcohol And Children
How Children Are Introduced To Alcohol
Sadly, we live in a culture that introduces alcohol to children at very young ages.
Parents and grandparents are known to have given very young children a sip of brandy for a cold or to get rid of 'worms' or even to get them to sleep or keep quiet.
In many instances when asked, children will tell you that they were introduced to alcohol by a family member or close adult friend and this is so common that people do it oblivious to the fact that they are encouraging underage drinking.
Unfortunately, adults do not understand the importance of having alcohol free children parties or events, but such can go a long way in helping to prevent underage drinking problems.
Not only are children given alcohol, but they grow up seeing advertising messages showing beautiful people enjoying life with alcohol. These messages tell young children and teenagers that alcohol is harmless and it entices them to use alcohol to fit in, look older or just out of curiosity.
The Role Parents Play
No child, family or parent is immune to alcohol. It is every where and in easy reach of children. That is why parent parents need to play a big role in shaping the lives of children and help them in understanding and making decisions about alcohol.
Talking to your kids about alcohol is the best way to make them aware of the dangers, but where do you start?
Young children will often start by asking ‘what is that?’ or ‘why do you drink that?’ especially if they see lots of adults drinking alcohol at a family occasion or party. You can talk to your children about the physical and social effects of drinking as soon as they start asking questions, this will help to build up their trust in you if things ever go wrong as they get older
Parents can have a positive or negative influence on their children. To be a positive infbluence on your child you should:
Be a good role model and avoid drinking alcoholic beverages in front of your child or drink only moderately if you need to.
Explain that alcohol is for adults only - talk about the good (the social side of alcohol) but also the bad (getting drunk)
Start the conversation about alcohol when children when they are very young and explain the dangers of alcohol abuse to them.
Don't drive under the influence of alcohol and especially do not do so with you children in your car as this will teach them that it is a safe practice to adopt.
Talking about the dangers of drinking which include unsafe sex and dangerous behaviour that includes fights and brawls.
Supervise parties to make sure there is no alcohol.
Encouraging children to participate in healthy and fun activities that do not involve alcohol.
Encourage questions - explain to your children that they can talk to you about alcohol and if they have any questions you’ll answer them. If they ask a question it’s ok to say ‘I’ll find out’ and search online together for the answer
Find out what they know and check that what your child has heard is accurate.
Tell Your Children Why They Should Not Drink
To drink or not to drink is a personal decision and while there is no 'drinking age limit' in Barbados it is illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to buy an alcoholic drink.
Unfortunately, many of our young people have easy access to alcohol which is found in many homes in elaborate liquor cabinets and sometimes treasured more than vitamins.
Alcoholic beverages are at fairs, sports clubs and even children parties. It's therefore up to parents to speak to their children about alcohol and the abuse of alcohol and to be role models for them when it comes to drinking of alcoholic beverages.
It is a good idea to set rules about the use of alcohol in the home and outside the home and encourage your children to call home if they are any where where alcohol is being used and they need help.
Teach your teen how to say no and how to deal with peer pressure. You can practice saying no confidently with your teen
Children should know that alcohol is a drug and that they can become addicted to it and that there are severe consequences to alcohol addiction. Here are some facts to tell your children:
Teens who drink are also more likely to get into fights and commit crimes than those who don't.
Children who drink regularly usually have problems with school and drinking can damage a student's ability to study well and get decent grades, as well as affect sports performance.
While it might appear that drinking makes you look cool, the truth is that drinking too much can make people do embarrassing things such as throwing up, peeing on themselves or having unwanted sex that can result in pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases that can change or even end lives.
Drinking also gives people bad breath, and awful hangovers.
There is a greater risk of killing or injuring yourself in car accidents or getting into fights.
If you suspect that your son or daughter is drinking too much or too often, you need to take action to encourage them to change their behaviour. If your child breaks your rules about alcohol, try to remain calm and take control.
What you can do:
Don’t talk to your teen if they’re still drunk - this may end in arguing as your son or daughter is unlikely to be able to think clearly while under the influence
Explain why you are upset or concerned - tell your teen that you really love and care about them and that you’re scared for their safety when they drink
Get professional support - if you think that your teenager has an alcohol addiction then you can get professional help from a trained counsellor, doctor or psychologist.