Would you be able to spot the signs?
Every parent wants to bring up their child in a safe, healthy environment without any negative influences in their life. But with young people growing up much faster these days, there is an increased pressure on them to mix socially, and to ‘fit in’ with the children at school.
A young drinking culture has evolved in the UK – with many children having their first alcoholic drink or showing the first signs of alcohol harm by the age of 13. Although peer pressure can be an overriding factor in those who start to drink alcohol from a prematurely young age, parents can be the catalyst in their children getting easy access to alcohol or in giving them misshaped ideas about alcohol.
Children at the age of 13 are still developing, and alcohol misuse, if it carries on over a prolonged period, can seriously stunt the growth of a child, affect their brain development and impact on how they perform at school. They will also be more vulnerable to health problems and there is a greater chance of them becoming involved in anti-social behaviour or crime.
Signs of teenage alcohol abuse
As a parent, you should be aware of changes in your child as they grow up. To identify if your child is abusing alcohol is not an easy task and the symptoms can vary. Some telltale signs of teenage alcohol abuse are listed below:
- An increasingly aggressive nature, being moody or angry all the time or verbal or physical abuse to others.
- Asking for extra pocket money which may be spent on purchasing alcohol.
- Isolation from family members or a disinterest in wanting to spend time with close family.
- A smell of alcohol on their breath or noticeable slurring of speech.
- Socialising with a different set of friends or friends that are older.
- Grades dropping at school or a poor or falling rate of attendance at school.
- Little time spent at home. The majority of time spent in the house in the room.
Remember, it is only necessary for someone to have a couple of these symptoms for them to have a drink problem.
How to help?
One of the most important things that a parent can do is talk to their child. A strong family network can be integral in helping teens avoid becoming dependent on alcohol. Strong family values are key to any child’s upbringing and dictate how they behave. Teaching them from secondary school age about what is good or bad can make a difference to the decisions they make. A healthy respect for their parents, coupled with a close family network can contribute to a teenager’s wellbeing.
Teenagers and young people turn to alcohol for numerous different reasons, for some is because they are trying be part of the crowd, so they aren’t singled out or seen as boring. Alternatively, alcohol misuse could indicate that there are problems at home or they are using alcohol to escape from other problems or stresses. Educating your children on how to handle stress, around exams, peer pressure, unhappy family life or if they are being bullied, can help alleviate any worries and enable them to handle life events with more confidence.
If you have your suspicions about your child, or they are showing any of the above signs of abuse, then you need to find evidence that they are drinking alcohol. Very often, they will hide bottles in their room. Confronting them and discussing the alcohol in calm and understanding manner is usually the best approach. At the same time, try to make them aware of the health implications of what they are doing.
The most important thing is to be there as a supportive parent. Your children needs to know then can talk to you when they are feeling unhappy, or need someone to turn to.
Find out more about Cheshire Police's Totally Wasted campaign on Upbeat or watch the video below.