Helping your children avoid problems with drinking is not just about tackling alcohol issues head-on.
Research from around the world has shown that there are many things you can do to build up what academics call ‘resilience’ (what some people call ‘character’). That means giving your kids the confidence to be themselves and make good decisions.
Handily, the factors that can help protect children from developing problems with alcohol and other drugs will also reduce their chances of depression, eating disorders, and trouble at school – and they’re often very simple things like sitting down for dinner together.
Here a some of the things that can help you raise a sensible drinker:
- A positive family life, with a balance of affection and discipline
- Showing pride in your children and encouraging them to do well
- Stability – your children knowing there are adults around they can rely on and confide in
- Clear rules about behaviour, that make sense, with consequences for breaking them – letting your children get away with stuff may please them in the short-term, but also suggests to them that you’re not too bothered about them
- Giving children a few family responsibilities – like clearing the table after dinner or doing some hoovering
- Being involved in the local community – for example through a sports club, sewing club, or neighbourhood get-togethers like the Big Lunch. This sort of thing doesn’t suit every child, of course, but more solitary hobbies like writing, electronics etc. that give them satisfaction in a job well done, will also boost their confidence
- Spending time together and relaxing: One key part of this is regular family mealtimes – find out more from the Family Dinner Project at Harvard University. Another thing that can bring families together is traditions and rituals – these might come from your cultural or religion, or just be family things like a regular ‘pizza night’ or trips to watch football