The coronavirus lockdown has been challenging for everyone, but especially for parents. The unique mix of juggling changes to working life, increasing uncertainties and the pressures of home-schooling is no mean feat.
New research from the Alcohol and Drug Foundation shows that alcohol is a crutch that many parents across Australia have been turning to during these tough times. More than one in four parents have been consuming more alcohol during the coronavirus lockdown. Almost one in six (14%) say they’ve been drinking every day.
The good news is just as adults can easily form and inadvertently pass on unhealthy behaviours to their children, they can just as easily do the opposite.
The Alcohol and Drug Foundation’s CEO, Dr Erin Lalor, shares four top tips on how to role model lower risk drinking behaviours to your children throughout lockdown and beyond:
1.Teach healthy ways to cope with stress and anxiety
Almost two-fifths of parents told us they’ve upped their alcohol intake because of heightened levels of stress and anxiety due to COVID-19. A quarter of them specifically pinpointed the recent challenges of home-schooling.
This is worrying because we know parental behaviours and attitudes towards alcohol can guide their children’s future behaviour and decisions. It’s really important that our children don’t learn to view alcohol as a coping mechanism for stress or anxiety.
Alcohol can make feelings of stress and anxiety worse. Healthier alternatives include getting some fresh air by going for a walk or exercising outdoors, staying connected with friends and family, or indulging in your favourite music, books or TV shows. By demonstrating to your children healthy ways to deal with stress and anxiety, they are more likely to imitate those habits in the future, rather than pouring themselves a drink.
2.Show you don’t need a drink to have fun or wind down
Due to Australia’s deeply entrenched alcohol culture, alcohol is often considered a given on birthdays, celebrations or even just the weekend. In the same way you want to show your kids alcohol isn’t a healthy option to deal with stress or anxiety, it’s an important they don’t learn to view alcohol as an essential part of every celebration or social gathering. Enjoy other ways to have fun, through music, food or games.
Video catch ups have become the norm to connect with friends and families since the outbreak of covid-19. Whilst this has played an important role in addressing social isolation, a by-product has been bringing the pub into many homes, with kids listening or watching on.
Find ways to have virtual catchups without alcohol, such as virtual dinner dates, a distance movie night or challenging friends to an online game.
3.Keep a tally on how many drinks you’ve had
To reduce the risk of harm from alcohol-related injury or disease such as cancer, the draft national guidelines recommend people consume no more than 10 standard drinks per week and no more than four standard drinks on any day.
We strongly encourage everyone to familiarise themselves with what a standard drink is and stick to the guidelines.
4.Instill the confidence to say ‘no’
Politely telling someone offering you a drink that you’ve “had enough for the evening” demonstrates to your child that it is OK to say no to a drink if you don’t feel like it or have had enough.
The Alcohol and Drug Foundation’s video out today, shows just how impressionable children can be. It’s a powerful reminder that children learn and absorb what they see their parents do – even if you think they’re not paying attention.
For more details on the ‘You haven’t been drinking alone’ campaign and the impact your drinking could be having on your kids, visit https://adf.org.au/.
The Alcohol and Drug Foundation is strongly committed to supporting all Australians with quality information to prevent and reduce alcohol-related harm. For further information about alcohol use and ways to reduce related harms during COVID-19, please visit https://adf.org.au/covid-19/.
For free and confidential drug information or support, ADF encourages people to visit www.adf.org.au or call the Alcohol and Drug Foundation’s DrugInfo line on 1300 85 85 84. The non-judgmental service provides the facts about alcohol and other drugs, advice on how to support loved ones, and connects people with relevant health and support services in their state and territory.
About the Alcohol and Drug Foundation: Celebrating 60 years of service to the community, the Alcohol and Drug Foundation is one of Australia’s leading bodies committed to preventing and minimising alcohol and other drug harms in communities around the nation. The Foundation reaches millions of Australians in local communities through sporting clubs, workplaces, health care settings and schools, offering educational information, drug and alcohol prevention programs and advocating for strong and healthy communities.
The Power of Words: There’s power in the language we use to talk about alcohol and other drugs, and people who use alcohol and other drugs. Stigmatising language can negatively impact on a person’s health, wellbeing and relationships. Using person-centric language, instead of focusing on an individual’s substance use, has the power to reduce stigma and improve health and social outcomes. For a guide to using non-stigmatising language, please see the Power of Words or the Mindframe Guidelines.
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