The Alcohol Education Trust - Parent Newsletter

Autumn Term, September 2016, Ed 21

It’s with a mixture of sadness and relief here at the AET that we return to the routine of our kids being back to school - Room to breathe again, less chaos around the house, and the fridge isn’t permanently empty – but back into the mindset of nagging about homework and worrying about new schools, GCSE options, personal statements and transition to secondary school. It can be an unsettling time.

Please do have a go at the games and quizzes with your children in the Challenge Zone of our Talk About Alcohol website. You can play on your phone or an ipad - A lot of thought has gone into making them fun but informative - Can you brave the rave? or keep up with the chimps in the supermarket? The games are carefully built to encourage healthy choices but you probably won’t notice that while trying to get a high score!

Prepare for peer influence

Moving to secondary school or the sixth form can lead to a wider pool of peers and friends, who can  influence our kids. We already know that both children and parents overestimate the number of teenagers who get drunk or smoke – as we tend to notice them more. In line with government guidance, most under 16s don’t drink, and for those that do, it’s rarely, on a special occasion with friends and relatives. However, your children may aspire to be part of what they see as the cool gang who hang out at the park or have wild parties. This advice may help:

Peers are a major influence during adolescence

As your child approaches adolescence, friends and “fitting in” become really important and being accepted by peers can be difficult. Your teenager’s friends are a major influence on their decisions about alcohol – as your child is more likely to drink if their friends do. Despite the growing influence of peers, you can still have a positive impact – and be the biggest influence on your teenager’s alcohol use. A good relationship with them will reduce any negative influence from their friends, so they feel they can talk about their worries and pressure they might be facing. Allow them to blame you if you don’t want them to go to a party, or insist on picking them up and speaking to host parents too.  If you’re happy for them to go – you can arm them with excuses such as an early start for a sports fixture, or going out the next day. Do encourage them to explore which has some great interactive games and quizzes that can be played on phones or ipads.

Encourage positive friendships

Get to know your teenager’s friends. Encourage your teenager to invite their friends over when you are at home. This will allow you to get to know them all better and give you an insight about what they get up to and what’s important to them. Good food and movies or an X box always help! Talk to your adolescent about qualities that really count in a friend, such as being kind and trustworthy, rather than popular and “cool”.

Enlist the support of other parents
Build a support network with other parents and carers. The families of your teenager’s friends may have different values and attitudes regarding alcohol compared to yours and this could cause some difficulty in maintaining rules on alcohol for your adolescent, so checking with other parents about sleepovers, house parties or what’s happening is really important, as our teenagers often tell us what we want to hear rather than what might really be going on!

Dealing with peer pressure to drink
Your teenager may find themselves in situations where it is difficult for them to say no to alcohol, because of peer pressure. Try to prepare them by focusing on specific situations that they may encounter and talk about different ways they can deal with peer pressure to drink. Tell your adolescent that the decision whether to drink or not is theirs, and not their friends’. Help them develop ways to say no to offers of alcohol before they are faced with situations where this may occur. There are some good alcohol free beers, virgin cocktails and ciders too that could help them fit in. One in five young adults don’t drink, so it’s more and more acceptable to be having a great time while staying hydrated with water or soft drinks! Remember that peers can also be a positive influence too. Encourage your child to support others who experience peer pressure to consume alcohol.

Be a good role model
Parents are important role models for their children, even during adolescence. Your attitude towards alcohol, what you drink, how much, when and where are all a major influence on whether or how your teenager will drink in the future. This influence begins at a very early age. Warning your child about the dangers of drinking will not be effective if you do not set a good example yourself!

Tips for modelling responsible drinking:

  • Don’t get drunk, especially in front of your children
  • Sometimes decline the offer of alcohol
  • Provide food and non-alcoholic beverages when making alcohol available to guests
  • Never drink and drive
  • Try not to convey to your children the idea that alcohol is fun or glamorous through stories about your own or others’ drinking
  • Do not portray alcohol as a good way to deal with stress, such as by saying, “I’ve had a bad day, I need a drink!”
  • Use healthy ways to cope with stress without alcohol, such as exercise, listening to music, or talking things over.

Monitor your child

Teenagers are more likely to experiment with alcohol when adults are not around, especially at places like parks or the beach, or at each other’s houses. Knowing and checking where they are and who they are with really reduces the likelihood of them getting into trouble, whether it involves alcohol or not.

Before your adolescent goes out, you should:

  • Ask them where they will be, what they will be doing, and who they will be with
  • Set a curfew and know what time to expect them home
  • Make arrangements with them about how they will get home safely
  • Make sure they have a way to contact you
  • Ask them to contact you if their plans change
  • If you are giving them money, discuss how much they will need and how it will be spent.

It’s not because you are nosey, but because you care about their safety. Most teenagers do moan, but do really appreciate you monitoring their activities and see it as proof of their parents’ concern for their wellbeing. Be aware though, that being overly strict or harsh may cause you them to rebel. Try to balance your approach while respecting their need for privacy and adjust your approach as they mature to encourage their growing independence.

Better parenting has led to decline in underage drinking

We’re really pleased that tips such as those above, coupled with sales practices that are making it harder for young people to buy alcohol, have led to a significant decline in underage drinking over the last 10 years. The decrease has mainly been attributed to better parenting and parents being less likely to drink in front of their children, more likely to disapprove of them drinking, and more likely to know where their children are. Also, how our kids spend their spare time is changing with an increase in time spent inside gaming and on devices. Approximately 38% of 11- to 15-year-olds said they had consumed alcohol beverages in 2014, compared to 61% in 2003. 

Not all good news

An ITV report stated that one in 5 children is living with a parent who drinks at risky levels and Churchill Insurance found that half of parents with children under 14 allow them to drink at home on special occasions – so we do emphasise here, if you’re one of the 50%, there is a world of difference between sips on special occasions and whole drinks. Basically, the more relaxed you are about them drinking alcohol at home, the more likely your teenager is to drink in more risky situations out of the house – it makes sense really ‘well Dad doesn’t mind’ or, ‘ I’m used to drink anyway’.

The most recent figures demonstrate that, among those teenagers who do drink, the level has risen from 8 units to nearly 10 a week.  Visit the parent area of for tips and hints on how to keep your child safe around alcohol. We’re pleased to say that only 8% of parents allowed their child to drink more than once a month.


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AET resources comprise of and a Teacher Workbook, booklets ‘Alcohol and You’ for 15yrs+ and ‘Talking to Your Kids About Alcohol’ parent and carer guide.
We also offer teacher CPD workshops and parent information talks.

For further information on any of the above please contact
Helena Conibear, Founder, Director
Sandra Saint, Parent and Schools Coordinator NE
Kathryn Arnott-Gent, Parent and Schools Coordinator NW
Kate Hooper, Schools Coordinator
Helen Dougan, Project Manager

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Gordon Redley BEd (Cantab) LPSH, Chair of Trustees
Christina Benjamin BSc (Hons) PGCE
Patricia Garven Cert Ed.
Victoria Mc Donaugh MA (Hons) PGCE
Keith Newton ACA
Alison Winsborough BMus, PGCE

The Alcohol Education Trust, Frampton House, Frampton, Dorset, DT2 9NH
01300 320869
Registered Charity Number 1138775