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Parental Drinking

Rethink your drink

The coronavirus outbreak is a stressful time for everyone, and it can be tempting to relieve some of that stress through alcohol. However, children can be affected when parents drink too much, in the short and long term. By drinking responsibly, you can help protect the health and wellbeing of you and your kids and help them to develop a healthy relationship with alcohol.

Read our six tips for parents on how to set a good example for your little ones:

1. Explain what alcohol is

Talking to you children about alcohol can help put it into context for them and remove some of the mystery surrounding it. Let your children know that, like lots of other activities such as spending time with friends and family, trips to the beach etc that alcohol can be enjoyed, but that too much can have less enjoyable consequences.

2. Take their concerns seriously

If a child seems worried, upset or anxious about a parent or carer’s drinking, talk to them about it. Showing them their feelings are valid and you’re taking them seriously can help them to deal with their feelings. Should parents or carers argue after drinking, let children know that the argument has been resolved.

3. Set boundaries for older children

Discourage children from drinking alcohol for as long as possible, ideally until children are at least 15 years old. The younger children are when they start drinking alcohol, the more likely they are to develop unhealthy relationships with alcohol when they’re older.

4. Avoid saying ‘I need a drink!’

It’s a common phrase many of us say to express our disappointment, anger or stress but to a child, it could seem that it’s an effective way to deal with our worries, stresses and anxieties. This will raise the importance of alcohol to children. Relating drinking alcohol with children’s behaviour may also feel as though they are being blamed for their parent needing a drink.

5. Avoid getting drunk around children

Besides the obvious physical safety risks of drinking too much around children, it can also be confusing and even scary for them to see the adults that care for them and protect them out of control. Children shouldn’t be having to care for siblings, such as looking after younger siblings, putting them to bed or cleaning up empty glasses because a parent or carer is unable to from drinking too much.

6. Recognise when alcohol becomes a problem

Family life can be difficult and challenging in the most normal of times, and even more so when stresses, worries and anxieties are raised because of the changes to our daily lives caused by the coronavirus. Sometimes, people drink too much to cope with the stresses of daily living, and it usually ends up making things worse. The signs might include:

      • Not getting things done at home because of drinking or being hungover.
      • Spending more money than you can afford on drinks.
      • Arguments about drinking.
      • Physical or mental health problems.

Feeling as though drinking is the most important thing in your life.

Need more help?

There's lots of support available if you feel you need more help to manage your drinking. Alcohol Change has created this list of helplines and services available to you. 

We're here for you too. You can talk to or register with us on freephone 0800 840 1628. We'll assess your drinking and help you take steps to drink less. 

Rethink your drink:

How's your relationship with alcohol? Find out now with our quiz:


Drink Free Days

Drink Free Days is for people who like a drink but want help to cut down on booze. Feel healthier, lose weight and save money with the Drink Free Days app. Simply nominate days to take off drinking and get practical, daily support to help you stick to it. Guidelines recommend we take at least 3 days off drinking a week. Do you drink more than a few and find it hard to take days off? Research shows people who dedicate days off can stick to their goals better than those who don’t. If you or someone you care about would like to cut down our Drink Free Days app can help.

Adrian Chiles

"Loads of us drink too much. I used to drink every day and was horrified to find that my consumption was sometimes in excess of 100 units per week... I had to moderate my drinking".

Binning the beers

"I didn't see the problem"


Emma and Shaun's story

Herbal Tea pot luck!


Ed's Story

“I no longer need a drink every week.”


How does this work?

The tailored approach LiveWell Dorset uses to come up with solutions to the things that are stopping us achieving our goals, is based upon work done by University College London developing the COM-B model of behaviour change. In this model, all behaviour is influenced by understanding a person’s capability to change, their opportunity to change and their motivation to change. By understanding which of these is the biggest barrier to change, we can tailor support accordingly. This model of behaviour change is at the centre of the support we offer, online and in person.

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