The Chief Medical Officer for England advises that children under 15 years old should not drink alcohol. This is because the teenage brain is still developing
Children and teenagers might try alcohol to fit in with friends, they might be curious or they might think it will help them feel better if they are stressed about something. Understanding why teenagers drink could help you support them in making choices that are better for them
It is against the law for anyone under 18 years old to buy alcohol, it is also against the law to buy alcohol for anyone under 18 years old
It’s legal to buy a drink of wine, beer or cider for a child aged 16 or 17 to have with a meal at a table.
An alcohol free childhood is best for being healthy mentally and physically. It can be difficult for children to say "No" when they feel peer pressured. Childline has some great tips about being assertive and feeling strong enough to say "No".
Being A Role Model
Think about how you are a role model for your child, they learn a lot from how you behave. If you drink and have alcohol in the home, think about how much you drink and how it affects you. Take time to check you are drinking within safe limits.
Many people enjoy drinking alcohol within safe limits. Others see alcohol as a way of managing stress or difficult emotions. Try and show your child positive ways to manage feelings and events.
You may have had negative experiences of alcohol, either your own drinking or someone else’s. This might make it more difficult for you to talk to your child about alcohol, or make you more concerned that they will drink. You could use your experience to help explain things to your child.
If you need to talk about your own experiences with alcohol, you can find lots of useful information including a support line at Drinkaware.
Talking & Listening
Make sure your child feels they can talk to you. Open honest conversations help them to know they can do this. The conversation can feel more relaxed if you are both doing something you enjoy together, you could be making a cake, walking the dog or playing a game.
It’s understandable that you may want to give your child more freedom as they grow but stick to boundaries that you have at home and when they are out. Agree these together, like what time they come home, how far they can go from home. Reward your child for keeping to boundaries.
When you let your child make choices you are helping them grow and learn. Show them you understand how difficult it can be when they feel pressured or just want to feel part of a group. You could say "I remember feeling I had to do something I didn’t want to, do you feel like that?"
Remind your child of what they’re good at and why you are proud of them. Feeling confident about themselves can help in building self-esteem and in making good decisions.
Social media is often a big part of a young person's life and it can often feel that they are glued to their phones. As a parent/carer if you are worried about who your child is contacting on their phone, talk to them. You can always check who they are messaging.
It can be hard to understand all of the current social media platforms, so if you need to talk about your young person's internet use or are worried about who they are talking to online, you can always contact us for advice and guidance.
The Matthew Project delivers Unity, the specialist Drug and Alcohol Service for children, young people and their families across Norfolk. If you are worried that your child is drinking alcohol they can offer advice and support.
If you are worried that your child is drinking alcohol you can also contact Frank. They will give advice to parents concerned about alcohol and drugs.
You can contact the Healthy Child Programme by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 or texting Parentline on 07520 631590. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.
If you are 11-19 you can text ChatHealth on 07480635060 for confidential advice from one of our team.
Qwell provides free, safe and anonymous mental wellbeing support for adults in Norfolk and Waveney from a professional team of qualified counsellors.
For 11–25 year olds Kooth is a free, confidential and safe way to receive online counselling, advice and emotional well-being support.
Childline - Children and young people under 19 can call 0800 1111 for free support.
Young Minds Parents Helpline - Call 0808 802 5544 for free Mon-Fri from 9.30am to 4pm.
To speak to other Norfolk parents and carers, you can join our online community forum below.