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. For example, there’s evidence that children whose parents drink moderately in front of them are less likely to drink to excess.
You can follow these simple tips to demonstrate your own responsible attitude to drinking:
Drink within the government’s daily unit guidelines. This shows your child that adults can enjoy alcohol in moderation. Use the tool below to find out if you are drinking within the daily unit guidelines of 14 units per week for both men and women, spread throughout the week.
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 alcohol is measured in units. You could order a unit measure cup and show them what different measures of drink look like. Check out our virtual bar to see how many units are in a variety of common drinks.
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 daily unit guidelines.
If you do drink too much occasionally and have a hangover, don’t try and hide the symptoms, instead talk openly to your child about how you’re feeling, for example, having a headache or feeling sick and let them know the effects would be worse for them as they’re smaller and developing. This way they know too much alcohol can have a negative consequence and you avoid making alcohol a taboo subject.