February 26, 2020

For the Parents: Don’t Let Your Kids Sip Alcohol
“I would say that it is advisable not to offer your child a sip of your beverage, as it may send the wrong message — younger teens and tweens may be unable to understand the difference between drinking a sip and drinking one or more drinks.”

~ Dr. Kristina Jackson, PhD, Brown University’s Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies

For generations, it was common for drinking parents to let their children sample a small taste from their beer, cocktail, or glass of wine. But recent research suggests that may not be such a good idea.

An article in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs suggests that children who have tried alcohol by the time they enter the sixth gradeeven it was just a sip from a parent’s drink—are:

  • Five times more likely to drink by high school
  • Four times more likely to binge drink or get drunk
  • 26% of pre-teens who sample alcohol will consume an entire drink by the time they reach the ninth grade.
  • That percentage drops to just 6% among children who never tried alcohol.

Every day, over 4750 US teenagers take their first complete alcoholic drink. This is significant, because teens who start drinking before the age of 15 are at quintupled risk of developing Alcohol Use Disorder as adults, compared to those who wait until adulthood to drink.

Statistics about Teenage Binge Drinking

What is binge drinking?

It is the dangerous practice of consuming large quantities of alcohol on a single occasion.

  • Boys 9-13: 3 drinks
  • Boys 14-15: 4 drinks
  • Girls under 17: 3 drinks

For drinkers older than this, the levels become 5+ drinks for males/4+ drinks for females.

This more commonplace than you might think among young drinkers. Up to 60% of teens binge, and 90% of the alcohol they consume is via binging.

The rapid intoxication resulting from binge drinking can be hazardous in several ways:

  • Drunk driving/Riding with someone who has been drinking
  • Risky sexual behaviors
  • Accidents
  • Violence
  • Self-harm
  • Alcohol poisoning
What’s the Bottom Line about Teens and Alcohol?

Premature alcohol exposure has a profound and negative effect on the still-developing brains of adolescents and teenagers. So, the second-best thing that parents can do to protect their children is to refrain from sharing alcoholic drinks with them.

And because children best learn about drinking behaviors from observing their parents, the best thing parents can do is to practice responsible drinking. Setting good examples, setting boundaries, and holding frank discussions will send the strongest possible message about the unacceptability of underage drinking.

Since 1978, Teensavers Treatment Centers has provided trusted treatment and support for teenagers and families impacted by substance abuse, emotional disorders, or behavioral problems. Located in Orange County, California, Teensavers is the go-to resource for young people and families in crisis.

If you or someone you care about needs help, contact Teensavers today.

Teensavers—“Transforming lives…”

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