Yes, research shows that from a young age children learn about acceptable behaviour by observing and copying their parents, so when it comes to drinking, it really is a case of leading by example.
What they see at home helps children think about how they’ll drink alcohol as an adult. So, just as children learn to walk and talk like their parents, they learn how to drink like them too.
You can follow these simple tips to demonstrate your own responsible attitude to drinking.
Drink within the low risk alcohol unit guidelines of not regularly drinking more than 14 units per week for both men and women, and spreading them evenly over three days or more. This shows your child that adults can enjoy alcohol in moderation.
Don’t feel hypocritical for drinking when you have told them they can’t. Instead, explain that alcohol is only for adults because their bodies have finished growing, and even adults have rules about how much they can drink.
Talk to your kids about different drinks having different strengths and let them know what an alcohol unit is and how it’s measured. You could order a Unit Measure Cup and show them what different measures of drink look like.
Sometimes it can seem like there’s always an excuse to drink, but children notice if their parents have different drinking patterns at special occasions or on holiday. To avoid confusing them, keep up a conversation that explains that usually you stick to the lower risk unit guidelines.
If you do drink too much occasionally and have to deal with a hangover, don’t try and hide the symptoms, instead talk openly to your child about how you’re feeling. Tell them if you have a headache or feel sick and let them know these are effects of alcohol would be worse for them as they’re smaller and their bodies are still developing. This way they know that too much alcohol can have a negative consequence and you avoid making alcohol a taboo subject. The UK Chief Medical Officers recommend that an alcohol-free childhood is the healthiest and best option.