Talk to teens about alcohol

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Teen Our 14 year old hasn't had a period yet
OK, so you may risk your kids laughing at you, or accusing you of being a hypocrite if you drink yourself, but there are a lot of mixed messages about alcohol. Alcohol is the 'acceptable' drug in our society. Your children see it everywhere: at home, on TV, in restaurants, bars and shops.

The number of children drinking in their early teens is growing, and many are drinking to get drunk. As parents, we worry that they'll get into danger or take risks such as having unprotected sex. So explaining to your children that alcohol is just as dangerous as other drugs is really important.

Read on for some tips on how to deal with it.

When should you let them drink?

There's no 'right time' when you should allow your child to try alcohol. (See what the law says on children, alcohol and the law)

You may let them have a glass of wine or a small beer once in a while. Unfortunately, this isn't France where, although alcohol is far more acceptable at the family dinner table, they don't have such a big binge-drinking problem as us. Our teenagers are more likely to have their first proper experience of alcohol when experimenting with friends. So be realistic about their chances of being tempted to drink.

Find the right time

Don't talk to them about the dangers of alcohol as they're rushing to go out with their mates. Choose a relaxed time. Travelling together in the car is a good spot. It's private and you have a captive audience so there's no storming off!

Be prepared for them to get angry or not want to listen. They're teenagers, after all. They know everything already! If the one to one chat isn't working, just bring the subject up in everyday conversation. Talk about it when watching TV, tear reports out of newspapers and look at websites like this one together.

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Also try Talk to Frank, an excellent helpline and website aimed at young people and their parents with guidance on alcohol and drugs. Call FRANK on 0800 776 600 or go to The government's Know Your Limits campaign gives advice on alcohol and safe drinking for young people too.

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