As the annual Schoolies celebrations kick off around Australia DrinkWise Australia wants to warn parents of schoolies that their last minute attempts to curb teen drinking will not work…
Trish Worth of DrinkWise says that “the eve of Schoolies is not the time to be talking to your teenager about alcohol in the first instance; children learn how to drink long before they’ve had their first drink by observing their parents. Parental role modelling is the number one influence on children’s future behaviours and attitudes towards drinking. If we expect them to exercise control during Schoolies’ celebrations, we need to lead by example and establish expectations well in advance.”
Trish Worth also says parents need to have the discussion with their teenager about alcohol and its damaging effects much earlier. “There is strong scientific evidence to show that alcohol has the potential to disrupt the development of the teenage brain and teenagers who drink too early risk not reaching their full potential.” Parents need to talk to their teens and pre-teens as early as possible to encourage them to delay their initiation to alcohol.
A study has found that in the last five decades there has been a significant lowering of the age a full alcohol drink has been consumed, five decades ago it was 19 years now it is 15.5 years. That is not a good sign. It has become the norm.
Trish Worth, said that managing teen drinking is a difficult issue at the best of times, and the issue only intensifies at this time of the year when school leavers are keen to kick up their heels. “The transition from school to university or the work force is an exciting, emotionally charged time for young people. Traditionally, it is cause for celebration, but the reality is that Schoolies Weeks are often marred with stories of alcohol-fuelled accidents, sometimes with tragic consequences,” Trish Worth said.
Included below are practical strategies to help parents delay their teen's introduction to alcohol:
1. Set firm family guidelines which reflect the delay message so that your teen is clear about your expectations and understands your thinking.
2. Discuss the fact that not every teenager is drinking. The truth is that most teenagers under 18 either don't drink or don't drink to excess. Drinking too much, too young is not normal.
3. Talk to your pre-teen or teen about the new brain science which is telling us how alcohol can impair the developing teenage brain and stop them reaching their full potential.
4. Encourage them to get involved in other activities that do not involve drinking, but instead offer challenging opportunities, such as sport and creative pursuits.
5. Discuss the delay message with other parents. Share the knowledge you now have about the new brain science and try to come up with a common standard related to your teenagers and drinking.
6. Consider your own drinking behaviour. Teenagers are still heavily influenced by the role modelling of parents. So, if you drink heavily then expect your teenager to drink at risky levels.
Do you drink to get drunk?
Did you go or are you going to schoolies?
If so, what was your schoolies experience like?
For more information see:
Tips to cut down your alcohol