In one way or another, we may know or witnessed firsthand someone letting their kids taste a little beer or wine at a party. After all, it’s a special occasion and it’s harmless, right?
Many parents believe that letting their children, from as early as pre-school, can take the taboo off alcohol drinking and therefore protect them from subsequent curiosity and excitement in drinking later on in life. However, a study conducted at Brown University in Rhode Island has proven that the earlier children taste alcohol, the higher the risk that they will start drinking in high school.
According to the study published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, children who have had a sip of any form of alcoholic drink even before they reach sixth grade are more likely to start drinking and even binge-drink by the time they reach high school. It also states that kids who have had a sip before they started middle school were five times more susceptible to having a full drink by the time they reach ninth grade, compared to those who have not tasted alcohol.
These findings reinforce the need for parents to give a clear and consistent message to their kids about the consequences and dangers of alcohol consumption. Early introduction to alcohol consumption will not teach them to drink safely, thereby underscoring the unacceptability of alcohol consumption for youth.
Offering your child a sip of alcohol may suggest that drinking is okay, especially because it is offered by you, the parent, because younger teens and tweens do not understand the difference between a sip or drinking one or more. Therefore, the study suggests that if you want to send a better, more consistent message, children must be educated and informed about the consequences of drinking and the virtue of moderation.
Do you have a drinking problem? Do you have a troubled child that you feel has a drinking problem? Talk to us.