How to Talk to My Child About Alcohol

To prevent teen alcohol use, it is essential that parents get involved. Find out how to talk to your child about alcohol in the following article.
How to Talk to My Child About Alcohol

Last update: 25 September, 2021

Adolescence is a complex stage for parents. It forces us to have certain conversations with our children that aren’t so easy to deal with. Talking about alcohol consumption is precisely one of them. Therefore, we want to show you how to talk to your child about alcohol and what information to give them on the issue.

The consumption of alcoholic beverages is a habit that society has naturalized. However, this behavior during adolescence is one of the aspects that most worries parents. At this age, the perception of risk is usually quite low and, along with the ease of accessing drinks, this causes young people to start using alcohol at an increasingly early age.

As parents, can we do something about it? What attitudes are we to take? Below, we’ll answer these questions and more.

Why is it important to talk to your child about alcohol?

Some parents make the mistake of downplaying teen alcohol use. Others think that their advice won’t be heard by their children. And, therefore, they avoid this important conversation. However, parental intervention is more relevant than you may think.

In the first place, we need to talk with children about alcohol from infancy, as this is the stage when messages from parents are better received. Even if children have already reached puberty, it’s essential to provide them with information about the risks of consumption, as misinformation is harmful. On many opportunities, ignorance causes young people to overindulge in drinking.

Perhaps you think that they already know what you have to tell them or that their rebellion will cause them to ignore your words. However, rest assured that by addressing the issue, you’re contributing to their safety and well-being.

A teenager her doesn't want to hear her mother's lecture.

How to talk to your child about alcohol

Now, because it’s a sensitive topic and a complex life stage, the conversation about alcohol can’t happen just any way. For this talk to be effective, it’s important to comply with certain parameters, such as the ones we’ll show you below:

Approach the matter naturally

Talking to your teen about alcohol doesn’t require dramatizing or finding a specific time to have a unique and deep conversation. You can take advantage of any moment where the issue arises naturally. Ask what they think, what they know, or what doubts they have on the subject.

An advertisement, an item on the news, or a personal anecdote can all lead to a very relaxed conversation.

Avoid judgment

It’s important that you don’t take an overly radical or authoritarian stance on alcohol consumption, as this can close the lines of communication with your child.

If they express their curiosity or tell you that someone in their inner circle has consumed alcohol, show interest in learning more. But always from an understanding stance and not from a critical one.

Many adolescents view their parents as rigid figures and so detached from their reality that they can’t fully trust them. Try to make it clear that your objective isn’t to prohibit for the sake of prohibiting, but to guarantee their safety.

Provide accurate information

Having reliable information about the risks of alcohol use can be much more helpful than simply being denied. Therefore, explain to your child that alcohol consumption in adolescence can damage their brain, which isn’t yet fully developed. This can have the following consequences:

  • Memory and attention problems
  • A slowdown in the ability to process information
  • Difficulties organizing, making good judgments, or managing feelings

In addition, the early consumption of this substance increases the risk of developing an addiction. Even engaging in dangerous behaviors such as unprotected sex, violent altercations, accidents, or the use of other drugs is more likely.

Try to emphasize that you’re not trying to demonize alcohol. Rather, you’re trying to teach them that it’s worth waiting for their body to mature in order to avoid irreversible consequences.

Build a solid personality as a foundation

We can’t ignore the fact that alcohol brings certain immediate rewards to young people. For example, it helps them to become uninhibited, to fit into the group they belong to, or to deal with negative or painful emotions.

One of the great objectives of parents is to provide the personal tools that allow them to manage these aspects, without feeling the need to resort to alcohol.

So, make sure that your child reaches adolescence with a solid self-esteem, sufficient social skills, and with their emotional intelligence well developed. And if you notice that there are deficiencies in any of these aspects, don’t hesitate to seek the necessary professional support to reinforce them.

Offers leisure alternatives

Teenagers drinking.

A child’s peer group has an enormous influence on the decisions they make. Therefore, if your child’s friends consume alcohol frequently, they’re more likely to start the habit as well.

Enroll them in different activities that constitute a more appropriate leisure alternative. This will expand their social circle with people who have other interests. Sports or the arts, in all their variations, are two excellent options for keeping your child busy with a healthy activity.

Don’t waste valuable time preventing damage!

Ultimately, talking to your child about alcohol is an unavoidable task through which serious short-term and long-term consequences can be prevented.

Remember that adolescence isn’t easy for young people. They need your understanding, your guidance, and your resources in order to grow properly.

An emotionally strong and healthy young person who maintains fluid communication with their parents is much less likely to fall into this type of risky consumption.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Tapert, S. (2007). Consumo de alcohol en adolescentes: efectos sobre el cerebro. Documento presentando en el Seminario Internacional sobre alcohol y daño cerebral en menores, Madrid.
  • Boubeta, A. R., Golpe, S., Barreiro, C., Gómez, P., & Folgar, M. I. (2018). La edad de inicio en el consumo de alcohol en adolescentes: implicaciones y variables asociadas. Adicciones32(1), 52-62.
  • Sánchez Pardo, L. (2002). Los padres frente al “botellón”: guía práctica para una
    diversión sana de los hijos. Comunidad de Madrid: Consejería de Sanidad y Consumo, Agencia

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.