Children are the most impressionable of us all, and with an increasing number of parents resorting to a higher level of alcohol consumption during the pandemic lockdowns, the possibility of unhealthy drinking behaviours be passed onto them later in life becomes an issue to tackle straight away.
The lockdowns have presented challenges to each and every one of us in terms of our working lives, personal lives and financial situation. This has certainly been the case for parents who have not only had to juggle of all the above, but also manage the stress of home-schooling and taking care of their children. In order to cope with all this, many have turned to alcohol to ease the burden, in fact, one in four claimed that they were drinking more during the lockdown with one in six even drinking every day.
The increasing drinking habits of parents can have substantial effects on the levels of alcohol that children consume later in life. But, by practicing healthy intake habits around their children, parents can help instil in their children a better mindset towards alcohol consumption.
Here are some tips courtesy of The Alcohol and Drug Foundation’s CEO, Dr Erin Lalor, to help parents display lower risk drinking habits to their children:
1# Teach healthy ways to cope with stress and anxiety
Two-fifths of parents have increased their alcohol intake over this highly stressful period, with many specifically noting the anxiety behind home-schooling their children. Parental behaviours and attitudes can shape those of their children in the future, so it’s important that parents teach their kids to not see alcohol as a coping mechanism.
Lalor said, “Alcohol can make feelings of stress and anxiety worse. Healthier alternatives include getting some fresh air by going for a walk or exercising outdoors, staying connected with friends and family, or indulging in your favourite music, books or TV shows. By demonstrating to your children healthy ways to deal with stress and anxiety, they are more likely to imitate those habits in the future, rather than pouring themselves a drink.”
2# Show you don’t need a drink to have fun or wind down
Australia is home to a drinking culture that has normalised the drinking of alcohol for celebrations and on weekends, but just as alcohol shouldn’t be seen as a stress-relieving solution, it also shouldn’t be seen as an essential for gatherings and celebrations.
To show this, Lalor says that parents can “Enjoy other ways to have fun, through music, food or games.”
“Video catch ups have become the norm to connect with friends and families since the outbreak of COVID-19. Whilst this has played an important role in addressing social isolation, a by-product has been bringing the pub into many homes, with kids listening or watching on.”
Parents should try to do these activities without alcohol, for example virtual dinner dates, movie nights or online games.
#3 Keep a tally on how many drinks you’ve had
It’s easy to lose count of how many glasses you’ve had at the end of a long day, but for the sake of children and health, “the draft national guidelines recommend people consume no more than 10 standard drinks per week and no more than four standard drinks on any day.”
#4 Instil the confidence to say ‘no’
If as a parent, your child sees you politely refusing a drink, they’ll learn that there is a limit and that it is okay for your child to also say no when opportunity arises. The Alcohol and Drug Foundation released a video showcasing just how impressionable young children can be:
For more details on the ‘You haven’t been drinking alone’ campaign and the impact your drinking could be having on your kids, visit https://adf.org.au/.