What is a good age for you to talk to your child about alcohol?

alcohol abuse talk

April is  Alcohol Awareness month, to help parents tackle the big question they ask themselves at one point – “What age is a good age to talk my child about alcohol abuse?”. The answer is quite a loaded however, the most important piece of information to understand here is that you must talk to your child at some point about alcohol.

According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) the best age to speak yo your child about alcohol is at the age of ten. The saying “The earlier the better”, definitely applies when talking to your child about alcohol.

Why 10 years old?

You may be thinking my child is not drinking yet or that this may be too early of an age but keep in mind that children who talk about alcohol or drugs with their parents are less likely to try or abuse. Despite what most parents believe the age of experimenting drugs and alcohol begins very early.

It also important to note that at this age the importance of what their peers think and do are becoming more important for children. Friends and fitting in become top priorities for your child. The influence of their friends is quite large as well. Talking to your child allows them to be properly educated on the dangers and repercussions of alcohol. Most children from the ages of 10-12 lack the knowledge of the negative effects of alcohol abuse and rely on their peers to educate them.

How can I talk to my child?

There is no easy way to bring up drug and alcohol abuse to your child but here are some tips to help you have a smoother talk.

Do your research

It’s only common during your talk that your child will have questions. Research alcohol and the effect it will have on your child to proper inform and educated them. Don’t worry you don’t have to be a walking encyclopedia of statistics, if you aren’t sure don’t be afraid to look for the answers together. Researching alcohol together will also help the information stick as they have read and heard the information from a direct source.

Don’t use other people as example

This step is hard because what better way for your child to understand than using an actual person they know as reference. Your goal is to educate your teen so they will naturally make the right choice even while they are being peer pressured. Using a person as reference distracts from your point and also gives way for negative or resentful thoughts to occur especially if your child despite this talk decides to try alcohol. Besides educating your child you want to establish open communication so they are not burdened to open up or ask for help when needed.

Empathize the negative effects

Make sure your kids are aware of all the negative effects drinking alcohol can bring. These reminders will serve as their reasoning when friends enthuse about how great drinking is. At this point your child will know that all the adverse side effects are not worth the temporary pleasure.

Have the talk regularly about alcohol abuse

You might think one stern will be enough to ward your child from alcohol but that is not the case. Think of it this way if you only talk to your child about this one they will only remember it once, any time after that they can be influenced to make the wrong choice. This doesn’t mean that you should constantly bombard you child to not drink. Having a talk about drugs and alcohol a few times a year is a great way to refresh your child on the negatives of alcohol.

Learn more about Alcohol Awareness month here.


About Karen Corcoran-Walsh

Karen Corcoran-Walsh, CAP, ICADC, MFT, ASAM is nationally known as an expert in the treatment of mental health and drug or alcohol abuse and addiction, also known as Dual Diagnosis, with a specialty in working with teenagers. Renowned as an adolescent addiction treatment center professional, she has worked in the professions of education and drug treatment for approximately 20 years. Karen is the co-founder of Inspirations For Youth And Families, LLC an adolescent treatment program and The Cove Center For Recovery, LLC an adult addiction treatment center.