This article was contributed by Drinkaware

Drinkaware works to reduce alcohol misuse and harm in the UK. The charity provides people with evidence-based information about alcohol and work with the medical community, third sector organisations, government and the drinks industry to achieve its goals.

Main content

Talking about alcohol with your child: a parent's guide


Photo: bachmont

Figures show that young people in the UK are generally drinking less than their parents’ generation. But a study by the University of Southern California of 1,500 15- and 16-year-olds published in The Journal of Adolescent Health found that the more pictures a child sees on social media of their friends drinking, the more likely they are to do so. Here are some tips from Drinkaware to help you talk to your child about alcohol

What parents can do

  • It’s never too early to start talking about drinking – and never too late to catch up.
  • Don’t react – act! Introduce the topic gradually. Take the initiative. If and when you really need to talk about it, you’ll already have made some points and be ready for more.
  • Find out what they know. Start by asking open-ended questions and listening. Try saying something like, 'Tell me what you know about spirits' to find out what they think and believe.

‘Listening as much as you talk encourages young people to pay attention and open up’

  • Get the tone right. Listening as much as you talk encourages young people to pay attention and open up. Try not to seem judgemental, critical or disapproving.
  • Get the timing right. Starting a discussion just as they’re leaving to meet friends, or before bed, or in the middle of an argument only leads to conflict. Instead, try chatting over a meal.
  • Choose a neutral location. Side-by-side in a car or on the sofa is a good option, or while you're cooking or washing up: somewhere that everyone can be relaxed and positive.
  • Be impromptu. A soap storyline, a  film or TV drama, a celebrity scandal involving drink, even gossip about family or friends can all offer an opportunity to find out what they think and start a conversation. 
  • Be honest. If you get caught out saying one thing and doing another, they'll write off everything you say as hypocritical. 

Further reading

You don’t have to be the one with all the answers when it comes to talking to your child about underage drinking. All you have to do is to be the one they come to with most of the questions. You can find some FAQs at


The advice published on Parent Info is provided by independent experts in their field and not necessarily the views of Parent Zone or NCA-CEOP.

First published: November 2014
Updated: ​May 2018


Related articles

  • Health and wellbeing

    Bullying: a parent's guide. What if my child is bullying another child?

    Scotland's anti-bullying service, Respect Me, offers parents advice on how to help children caught up in bullying behaviour online or off

  • Health and wellbeing

    How exercise can help raise your child’s self-esteem

    We take a look at some ways that you can support your child to make the most of exercise and use it to help raise their self-esteem

    Have you ever noticed that the tennis courts in parks are always busy when Wimbledon is on? Major sporting tournaments on television can inspire and motivate people to get involved in exercise or take up a new sport. The warmer weather and long summer days also help. According to the UK National Health Service, the positive benefits of physical activity include boosting self-esteem, mood, sleep quality and energy.

Explore further