Drink: Children live what they learn
Have you ever noticed how your children from a young age will repeat things you say? Dress up in adult clothes? Drink out of big cups before they’re able to handle it without spilling?
Likewise, you may have heard them talking about ‘daddy’s juice’ or ‘mammy’s wine’ as they first start learning about alcohol.
Funded through the Big lottery Fund and Public Health Agency, Drink Think and Divert have come together to get parents thinking about how they consume alcohol in front of their children. The campaign ‘Children Live What they Learn’ has been developed to highlight how children watch and copy what adults around them do from a very young age and to gently remind parents that the way you enjoy alcohol in front of your child, will have a huge impact on your child’s attitude toward alcohol and how they use alcohol when they are older.
When a child is very young, it is easy to forget they are taking things in until the repeat an action or words they have seen or heard and then you realise how much they are paying attention. Research shows that early exposure to alcohol and tobacco use through family members, community and social events, and media may influence children’s perceptionsof alcohol long before they ever consider using these products themselves.
Divert manager, Leona McMenamin, said: “Divert engage with young people and families to encourage a sensible approach to alcohol and support them to make the right choices. This campaign highlights the work that we do on an ongoing basis. We hope this campaign will make parents think about how they expose their children to alcohol as children watch and copy what their parents do from a very young age.
“When we use every occasion for an excuse to crack open a bottle of wine or tin of beer, we are setting an example to our children. Alcohol has its appropriate time and place for use and we should be very careful about how and when we allow our children to see us enjoy alcohol in a sensible manner. If we show our children that it is the ‘done thing’ to have a drink at every opportunity, we cannot be surprised when they chose to drink alcohol at every opportunity from the ages of 12 or 13,” she said, adding: “It could be because the sun is out, or its a Friday night, or they’ve had a good day, or they’ve had a bad day. They learn this from us, as they take all in from their prams and high chairs.”
Joanne Smith, manager from Drink Think, said: “We feel its important to highlight this message to parents to remind them of the huge influence they have over a child’s attitude toward alcohol. Often we don’t realise the power of our actions over our child. Its important for parents to be aware of the example they are setting to their child and understand their child is learning from them each day.
“We have developed this campaign, not to preach to parents but to simply highlight an adults role in teaching children and young people about alcohol. It can be a positive example if your children see you enjoying a small amount of alcohol with a meal. Children will start to realise when and how alcohol should be used. You, as a parent are the most important influence on your child’s attitudes toward alcohol. The more you talk to your child about alcohol from a young age and encourage the responsible use of alcohol, the less likely your child will be to misuse alcohol in later years.”
For more information on the campaign or for a Family conversation Toolkit to talk about alcohol in the home, contact Drink Think on 028 7136 3925 or Divert on 028 7126 9327.
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Sunday 26 May 2013
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