Take Action

The best advice available for parents is to delay the supply of alcohol to your children for as long as you can.

As a parent you might be tested and challenged about this as your children approach or advance through adolescence, however there are strategies you can use to support your position. 

It is important that young people find activities that stimulate them and support their development.

Support them to stay engaged in school.

Be involved in activities that create a positive school environment – especially those which connect to the wider community.

Involving young people in organising alcohol-free events in your community can be very useful.

Talk to your child about your attitude to them drinking.

You could go further and develop an agreement or protocols/kawa within your family/whanāu about how you will manage alcohol in relation to the young people in your lives.

Be a positive role model (in your family or community). Examples include:

  •  enjoying yourself without alcohol
  •  modelling how to refuse a drink/avoid pressure to drink
  •  if/when drinking yourself just have one or stay within the low-risk drinking guidelines
  •  if you are driving or responsible for looking after children, don’t drink.
  •  if you are concerned about your drinking seek help from your GP or other health professional. This will model help-seeking behaviour.
  •  if you are concerned about someone else’s drinking in your family/whanau be supportive, and enable them to seek help.

You can reduce alcohol-related harm to a young person by building strong family connections and improving parent-child communication.

Consider building your skills by doing some parenting courses or reading some books about parenting. You could even organise parenting courses in your community to support others to learn useful skills and strategies.

Parent/Whanau Packs can be a great way of getting accurate and useful information to parents. These can include information about alcohol and other drugs, helpful strategies and also links to local agencies and services who can offer help and support.

  • Check with your local District Health Board and/or schools to see if one has already been developed. If there is one that is up-to-date and has been developed by a trusted source then you can utilise this.
  • Or work with your local school/s and community to develop or adapt a Parent/Whanau Pack to suit your local needs. These can be distributed via schools or local groups.
  • A number of groups have already developed Parent/Whanau Packs. You can use these as a starting point. Northland DHB has developed one.

Parent/Whanau Packs

Distributing information such as Parent/Whanau Packs to parents of pre-adolescents (10-13 year olds) is ideal.

When/if you judge it appropriate to introduce alcohol to your teen then ensure it is in small amounts and supervise its consumption. Click here to read about moderating and supervising alcohol consumption.

Talk to other parents and adults in the neighbourhood and/or school about drinking. Let young people know that delaying drinking is the best strategy to reduce harm.

Seek to develop a network of parents of your children’s peers and friends. You can discuss your expectations about alcohol and share strategies.

In your home

Discuss with others in your home the ways to minimise exposure to alcohol.

This could involve making sure alcohol is stored out of sight or deciding as a family/whanau that your home/s are alcohol-free.

  • Seek help if your family/whanau is under stress or pressure.  Turning to alcohol for “support” during difficult times is a double-edged sword and can lead to more problems, not less. Consider what coping strategies you are modelling to the young ones around you.

Be aware of young people’s online and social media activity and monitor their use.

In other places

Reduce exposure to alcohol in other places where young people spend time - discuss this with those who are responsible and offer to assist them.

You can find strategies to address this in other parts of this website. Click on the following links to take action on alcohol exposure in each of these settings:

Organise alcohol-free events - encourage activities and social gatherings for young people that are alcohol-free:

  1. Support/facilitate a discussion with young people about what form these could take, and involve them in the planning.

Visit GOOD VIBES to enable young people to develop alcohol-free events https://zeal.nz/goodvibes

  1. These could include indoor games challenges; outdoor activities – e.g. walks/tramps; music concert/dance; cultural activities such as kapa haka; singing; study/homework groups; community development initiatives – such as helping to re-develop local park/playground, community garden or supporting conservation efforts, helping others – such as a working bee to help an older resident with a task, helping to prepare Marae or other venue before event/clean-up after; fundraising events for school or local facilities. What about an inter-village/town challenge where young people of two or three local areas come together to “compete” in one or more fun challenges – the young people can decide what the “rules” are.

Help to change the laws so that young people can be protected:

Remember - the most important policies to protect young people from alcohol-related harm are:

  • Increasing the price of alcohol
  • Increasing the minimum legal purchase age from 18 to 20 years
  • Restricting alcohol advertising and sponsorship
  • Reducing the number of licensed premises (particularly off-licences) in your community

If drinking is happening now

Only if you feel safe, you may wish to intervene when you see young people drinking. Or call for assistance if you need help.

If you want to take action

Make sure you get the help and support you need.

There are health professionals andagencies around the country who can support you in taking action, alternatively there may be existing projects and initiatives that you can support and add value to.

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