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Talking to your children about drink.

There is plenty of help and advice available - written by parents and health professionals - about how to talk to children about drinking.

Here are some classic Dos and Don'ts:

    • Do let them know clearly what is acceptable and what isn't.
    • Don't make a big deal out of talking about drinking. Talk about it while preparing a meal, or watching TV (the soaps often raise it as an issue, so you can too), or bring it up while you're all eating together and feeling relaxed.
    • Do talk about what their friends are doing. Get to know their friends.
    • Don't criticise their friends, criticise their behaviour.
    • Do remember that you have a major influence on your children (though they probably won't admit it), so if they see you drinking to excess, they may just copy you.
    • Don't leave drink around when you're out and teenagers are home. Put it away so they can't find it by accident. Children do experiment; it's part of growing up. So don't leave temptation in their way.
    • Do remember the earlier teenagers start drinking, the more frequently they say they drink.

How to recognise if your child is secretly drinking:
    • Abrupt mood swings for no apparent or good reason.
    • Skipping classes, or just not going in to school.
    • Frequent lateness.
    • Money disappearing from your purse/wallet.
    • Disappearing to their room the moment they come in for the day.
    • Significant change in school performance.
    • Restlessness or tiredness.

If you're going out for the night:

This advice relates to teenagers.

    • Don't leave drink where it can be easily found (everybody always forgets the wine in the fridge).
    • Make sure your children have plenty to do while you're out whether it's watching a DVD or playing a computer game.
    • Give them a good meal before you go out for the evening.
    • Know where your kids are if they're going on a sleep over. Check with parents that an adult will be around or if a party's planned.

If they are going out for the night:
    • Make sure they've had something to eat before they go out.
    • Offer to get involved in your teenager's plans for the evening, e.g. drop your son or daughter into town and pick them up again at an agreed time.
    • While it is important your teenagers have sufficient cash for taxis home and public transport, consider how much spending money they should have for the evening.
    • Tell them to keep their mobile phone on and call if they have any problems.
    • Enquire who your son or daughter plan to go out with, should it be necessary for you to contact them.
    • Remind them that if they drink that it is easy to lose control, so be sensible.
    • Remind them never to leave a drink unattended in a bar as it might get spiked…with more alcohol for example.

Alcohol in the Home

Most households have drink at home and will often offer a drink to visitors. Drink however needs to be kept in a place where younger children cannot access it by accident.

It is unfair to teenagers, especially if parents are away for a night, to leave them in a situation where they have access to drink at home especially during the years when they are likely to experiment.