5 Tips to help parents delay youth drinking

1. Set family rules

Demonstrate Aajiiqatigiinniq – the Inuit societal value of decision-making through discussion and consensus. Try involving kids in developing the rules and consequences of underage drinking. Your kids are more likely to follow the rules if they are allowed to participate in setting them.

  • Discuss the rules regarding no drinking under the age of 19.
  • Be clear about the consequences for breaking the rules and stick to them.
  • Be sure that everyone in the family knows the rules. 
  • Share the rules with others involved in your children’s lives, and ask that they respect your wishes.
  • Stay calm if the rules are broken. Let your kids know they can call you any time if they need a ride home or need your help.
It may be helpful to think about your own beliefs and behaviours related to alcohol use by considering some of these questions:
  • If you choose not to drink alcohol, do you allow others in your home to drink, like other family members or visitors?
  • How often is alcohol a part of your life and consumed in your home, family or community gatherings?
  • Since underage drinking is illegal, are your teens allowed to attend parties where you know alcohol will be present? If so, have you discussed how they can stay safe or say no when offered a drink?
  • If you know your teen is drinking alcohol on occasion, have you discussed how to stay safe while drinking or around others who are drinking?

2. Model responsible drinking behaviours 

As a parent or caregiver, you are a role model for your children and other kids in the community. Your beliefs and behaviour toward alcohol can have a major influence on your kids and other kids in your life. If you choose to drink alcohol, it is not necessary to stop drinking when children are around. Instead, you can show them through your actions that alcohol can be a social experience if used safely and responsibly.

Tips for parents to demonstrate responsible drinking behaviours:
  • Stay within the limits of the low-risk drinking guidelines.
  • If hosting a gathering where alcohol is present, ensure that there are non-alcoholic drinks available, and do not let others leave alone or drive if they have been drinking.
  • Never drive after drinking alcohol or drive with others who have had alcohol.
  • Don’t tell stories where heavy drinking could be seen as fun or exciting.
  • Plan more alcohol-free activities and celebrations to show there can be fun without alcohol.
  • Don’t use alcohol to cope with stress or other life struggles. Instead, reach out to a trusted friend, family member, teacher, counsellor or Elder to talk about it.

3. Help kids deal with peer pressure

It is possible that youth will be in situations where alcohol is around and they might not know what to do. Youth can feel pressured by their friends to drink alcohol, and it can be hard for them to say no. That’s why it is important to help kids deal with pressures to drink, so they can make safer choices in situations where others are drinking.

Tips for parents to help kids deal with peer pressure:
  • Plan ahead what to say if friends pressure them to drink, like:
    • “No thanks, I’ve got a game tomorrow and it affects how I play.”
    • “No thanks, I really don’t like the way it makes me feel.”
    • “No thanks, I don’t like the taste.”
    • “No thanks, I’d rather not feel lousy tomorrow.”
  • Stay away from parties or activities where people will be drinking alcohol.
  • At parties with alcohol, hold a non-alcoholic drink so they aren’t pressured to drink.
  • Get involved in alcohol-free activities, like sports, crafts, games or going out on the land.
  • Find friends who have similar interests and aren’t just interested in drinking.
  • If they are at a party or group activity and a fight breaks out, leave right away or call a trusted friend or family member for help.

If you think that your teen might be drinking alcohol on occasion, discuss how to stay safer while drinking to reduce the risk of harm. Remind them to ask for help whenever they need it, no matter what the situation. Provide them with suggestions, like calling a family member, trusted friend or Elder.

4. Stay connected with your kids

  • Know who your children’s friends are and where they go to hang out.
  • Ask your children to let you know where they are going and to contact you if plans change.
  • Spend time together having fun, playing games, watching movies or going out on the land.
  • Encourage relationships with extended family members, Elders and friends so they are surrounded by people who care about them.

5. Build your kid’s self-esteem 

Children who feel good about themselves are less likely to start drinking at an early age or use alcohol in harmful ways.

Tips to help your children build confidence and self-esteem:
  • Recognize the positive things they do and praise them often.
  • Encourage relationships with role models in the community who live healthy lifestyles and who will be a positive influence.
  • Encourage involvement in school, sports and community activities that they enjoy so they learn to have fun without alcohol.
  • Encourage cultural connectedness by embracing Inuit traditions, connecting to the land and learning Inuit skills. 
Parents can also teach their kids positive coping skills to deal with stress and difficult situations without using alcohol, like:
  • Spending time on the land.
  • Hanging out with friends and family.
  • Enjoying time alone reading or playing computer games.
  • Playing sports or other group activities.
  • Doing activities like hunting, fishing, carving, cooking, sewing.
  • Reaching out in times of need and connecting with people who are supportive and who care about them.
  • Building positive relationships with family and friends and getting involved in community events, activities and celebrations.