Talking to children about alcohol is a hard topic for any parent. After “the talk” it’s probably one of the hardest talks you will ever have with your children. When to give them the alcohol talk is important. You need to do it, just like you need to give them the other talk, and you need to make sure that you do it at the right time. Let’s look at some tips for when to talk to kids about alcohol.
The average age a child tries alcohol, according to numerous national studies is eleven. It’s shocking but true. You need to start talking about alcohol way before that. You can do it in steps, and end up with talking about everything and going over everything. It is probably the best way to introduce the topic and to allow your children to know how you feel about it.
First, set standards for your children. Every household has a different set of rules based on their religious beliefs and their moral standards. Teach your children these first. They should be taught from the time they are talking and starting to understand things. Children learn from example and so they will watch you to see what you do. If you are a drunk, children will either become just like you or find it revolting and stay away from alcohol completely. You need to set the standards early. Let them know what you believe about alcohol, if you think it’s right to stay away from it completely or otherwise.
The next step you should take is to explain to them about alcohol. If you believe that you should stay away from it completely then explain to your child about the problems associated with alcohol and again why you believe that they shouldn’t have it. It will be reinforcing your beliefs and letting them know why you don’t drink. If you believe it’s ok for your child to drink when they are older, let them know when they will be allowed to drink and under what circumstances. You have to be strict and firm about the rules or they will be broken.
You then need to have the “closing talk”. It should be about everything you have said before, just briefly reinforcing everything you believe and why. They are older and will have more questions for you. Even if they don’t ask you anything, it is your responsibility to answer general questions about alcohol and its use. Have this talk when your children are no more than ten or eleven. Your children may already be very interested in it. Remember, children aren’t always little angels and their friends aren’t either. Usually it’s just curiosity that intrigues a child and that curiosity leads to dangerous habits sometimes.
Set the standards when your children are young and just learning about life. They will want to know what their parents expect of them. Children who have rules often feel more secure and loved than ones that don’t have any or many rules. Have the next talk with your children a couple years before the final one. You will be the best judge of when you have the talks with your children, but don’t assume that they don’t need them. Children need to be taught about alcohol and all of the other grown up things before they start getting curious. It is better they find out about them from you than a friend who is just a little too curious.