Many parents have let their children have sips of alcohol, usually in an attempt to satisfy their curiosity and to show that the taste is not pleasant. Prior to that, infants have had alcohol rubbed on their gums to numb their teething discomfort, but in neither case are parents attempting to get their children to want to drink. While most people would assume that allowing a child to try a sip of alcohol is not doing any harm, experts agree that it is likely sending the wrong message to impressionable children.
“I would say that it is advisable not to offer your child a sip of your beverage, as it may send the wrong message – younger teens and tweens may be unable to understand the difference between drinking a sip and drinking one or more drinks,” explained Kristina Jackson, one of the co-authors of the study published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.
Researchers who conducted the study compiled data from surveys taken of 561 children in middle school. They found that of all the kids who admitted to sipping alcohol before the sixth grade, 26 percent of them had their first full glass of alcohol before the ninth grade. The children who had never sipped alcohol were much less likely to drink, as only six percent of them had consumed a glass of alcohol by the time they entered high school.
In 2008, a similar study indicated that allowing children to sip alcohol at a young age decreased the likelihood of further underage drinking. Researchers have since realized that that study compared different groups of children. They found that the researchers in the early study compared children who got alcohol from parents and children who got alcohol from other adults. It i snow more clear that any sort of drinking at a young age can increase the chances of alcohol consumption later on.
Researchers of the study hope that parents will take this information and understand that giving any amount of alcohol to children isn’t the smartest thing to do.