Should I introduce my teenager to alcohol? The most important thing you can do as a parent to protect your child from alcohol and drug harm is to talk openly about the subject: 1- Get the facts There are a lot of myths about alcohol and other drugs. 2- Be clear in your beliefs |The safest option for children and people under 18 is not to drink. The guidelines show evidence that parental monitoring and family rules about alcohol do reduce the likelihood of young people drinking. 3- Look for opportunities to start the conversation Keep the conversation relaxed. Use relevant topics on the TV or radio and events as an opportunity to talk about alcohol and other drugs. It’s best to start talking about these issues early – if possible during primary school years. Try to have the conversation in a quiet and comfortable environment e.g. the family dinner table. Keep talking about these issues, there is no limit to the number of conversations you can have. 4- Ask questions Find out your child’s views about alcohol and other drugs. Talk about what they would do in different situations. 5- Make sure they understand the harms Make sure your child has the right information about alcohol and other drugs and correct any myths. Talk about the benefits as well as the harms of different drugs and why someone might use them. Don’t exaggerate the harms as it will make you sound less credible. 6- Set rules and consequences Let your child know your rules and the consequences for breaking them. Help them develop ways of getting out of situations where their friends are using alcohol or other drugs and they don’t want to be embarrassed by not taking part. 7- Be a role model When it comes to alcohol and other drugs, parents are the greatest influence on their children’s drinking habits. If you drink and act responsibly, your child is more likely to do the same later in life. A couple of points for parents to consider when having the talk are: – There is no safe level of drug use. Use of any drug always carries some risk. – There is no way to tell what is in illegal drugs.