HSE urges parents to talk with teenagers ahead of Junior Cert celebrations

HSE Press Release: Thursday 3 October 2019

For under 18s the safest choice is no alcohol

 AskAboutAlcohol.ie Parent’s Guide available now

With the Junior Certificate Exam results and the celebrations that follow happening this week - Friday, 4th October - HSE AskAboutaAlcohol.ie is encouraging parents to talk to their teens about alcohol ahead of the night. While young people deserve to celebrate their hard work after their exams, it is important for parents to have open conversations about the risks that come with drinking alcohol.

Research has shown that young people who have conversations with their parents and learn a lot about the dangers of alcohol and drug use are up to 50% less likely to use alcohol than those who don’t have such conversations1. When talking with your teen, it’s helpful for them to know about:

  • Alcohol facts
  • Risks and reasons not to drink
  • Make it clear that you expect them not to drink because you don’t want them exposed to these risks
  • Ways to avoid alcohol-related harm
  • Ways to enjoy themselves and cope with life’s ups and downs without alcohol

Dr Bobby Smyth, Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, has practical advice for parents:

“Parents are one of the biggest influences on a child’s attitude to alcohol.  Teenagers need their parents to steer them in the right direction, which means having conversations about the risks and reasons to avoid alcohol. The upcoming Junior Cert results night is an opportunity to highlight some of the risks and ways to stay safe. Also, it is so important to let your child know that they can always call you, no matter what. They need to feel they can safely call you if they, or a friend, gets into trouble. ”

From the age of 12 until our mid 20s our brains develop a lot. Using alcohol or drugs during this time can damage the growing brain, causing long-term emotional problems and difficulties with learning, planning and memory. The advice from the experts is to ensure that under-18s do not access alcohol at all. The earlier young people get involved with alcohol, and also drugs, the greater the risks. Parents should help their teens to avoid alcohol by setting expectations about celebrating the Junior Cert results alcohol-free. Talking to young people and setting expectations does work.  It doesn’t eliminate risk but it does reduce it.

The HSE’s Alcohol & Drugs, A Parent’s Guide is filled with information and practical advice on how to talk to teenagers about alcohol and other drugs. This guide has been written by experts specifically for parents, and the main message ahead of this week’s celebrations is to get the conversation started with your son or daughter. Students celebrating their exam results may feel under peer pressure to drink alcohol. It is important for parents to get informed and be realistic about alcohol risks and to set the boundaries.

The Parent’s Guide has advice from experts on:

  • Getting the conversation about alcohol and drugs started with your teenager – picking the right moment and taking your opportunity to talk.
  • Building resilience - showing your child that you have faith in their ability to get through difficult times and supporting them to solve their own problems and to be successful.
  • Setting a good example – the way parents drink and their attitudes to alcohol are one of the biggest influences on their child’s attitude to alcohol.  Be aware of the messages you are giving about alcohol and drugs (for example: “I need a glass of wine after the day I’ve had.”)
  • How to really listen - spend more time trying to understand their world and their feelings before offering your opinions or advice.
  • How to be the parent - handling resistance / setting boundaries / being brave. Keeping a close eye on your child and setting rules is the difficult choice, but you are doing the right thing.

 For more information visit: http://www.askaboutalcohol.ie/parents/

Last updated on: 03 / 10 / 2019