The UK chief medical officers recommend an alcohol-free childhood is the healthiest and best option.
However, if you are aware your teenager is thinking about trying alcohol for the first time, or is regularly drinking, here are some tips to give your child to keep them safe.
Even the most sensible child can be vulnerable as a result of alcohol. Making sure they eat a proper meal before they start drinking will slow the alcohol getting into their system, so the alcohol won’t go to their head so quickly. Starchy food like pasta is best.
Remind them to charge their mobile before they go out and make sure they have plenty of credit. Let your children know they can call you at any time of day if they are in trouble.
Keep your child safe by encouraging them to drink plenty of water and alternate soft drinks with alcoholic ones as this will slow down their drinking. Buy them soft drinks to take out with them.
Encourage your kids not to mix their drinks, as this makes it harder to keep track of how much they’ve had. Make sure they know that some drinks are stronger than others and could get them drunk more quickly.
Encourage them to take their time to taste and enjoy their drinks rather than rushing or downing them. Explain to your child that having only one alcoholic drink on the go at a time can make it easier to keep track.
Let your kids know that some people try to spike other people's drinks with more alcohol than they want or with drugs. Tell them to keep an eye on their glass or bottle and not to accept drinks from strangers.
Get more information about drink spiking and date rape drugs.
Let them know that if they are in trouble, feel uncomfortable or can’t get home safely, they can call you at any time to arrange to collect them, no questions asked.
Get home safely
Make sure they’ve planned how they’re getting home. Encourage your kids to stay with their friends, keep enough money for a taxi and always use a licensed taxi firm. Make sure they let you know where they are going and who with. Over a third (34%) of 16 and 17 year olds have walked home alone at night when drunk1.
Remind your children never to get into a car with someone who’s been drinking. It may seem obvious when sober but people are more likely to take risks when drunk. Over a third of teenagers have been a passenger in a car with a driver who was drunk2.
Find out more about drink driving alcohol limits.
Make sure they know what to do if a friend gets alcohol poisoning, becomes unwell or passes out – stay with them, put them into the recovery position, make sure they can breathe and call an ambulance.
At parties that aren’t in your home, make sure and adult is going to be present. Three quarters of parents (78%) think it is appropriate for 15-17 year olds to drink alcohol – so even if you don’t, your child’s friend’s parents might. Don’t be worried to call the house and find out yourself – speaking about your concerns with other parents will reassure you and help you keep your child safe.
If your child does get drunk, try not to overreact. Stay calm and wait until the next day to discuss it. Listen to their side of the story and talk through with them how they could act differently in the future.
How to talk to kids about alcohol