When to Discuss Alcohol with Kids

New research shows that parents and educators should be discussing the dangers of alcohol much earlier than many people previously expected. Explaining why children should not consume alcohol, and how doing so can harm them, needs to be done between the ages of 9 and 13. This is likely a much different approach regarding underage drinking prevention than what most parents and schools have been doing. The tendency to wait until children are older to discuss alcohol and drugs is proving to be too late.

“Surveys indicate that children start to think positively about alcohol between ages 9 and 13 years. The more young people are exposed to alcohol advertising and marketing, the more likely they are to drink, and if they are already drinking, this exposure leads them to drink more. Therefore, it is very important to start talking to children about the dangers of drinking as early as 9 years of age,” the report discussed.

Experts agree that it is not just the parent’s responsibility to begin educating their children about the dangers of alcohol. Physicians and health care providers should begin discussing the issue with children and their parents as well. Studies show that by the time children reach the age of 13, 21% have already tried more than a sip of alcohol. This number skyrockets by the time children graduate high school. Almost 80% of high school graduates have drunk more than a sip of alcohol.

Further indication that parental involvement is vital when it comes to the decision of whether or not to consume alcohol is that most children agreed that their parents were the biggest influencers on drinking. Kids whose parents discussed the dangers of alcohol abuse and experimentation were less likely to become heavy drinkers while in college. This is particularly vital because college students are more likely to engage in binge drinking. Binge drinking occurs when a person consumes large quantities of alcohol in a short amount of time. There are many dangers to binge drinking, such as alcohol poisoning, making poor decisions regarding driving and sex and the risk of developing an alcohol addiction.