You may think little of the harms of alcohol but a lot can spiral downwards from the first drink. With youths being exposed to alcohol as early as 15 to 16 [1], being your teenager’s drinking “buddy” can help give responsible drinking habits an early start!

It may not have crossed your mind, but not drinking in front of teenagers even when they are of legal age can be important first steps to a lifelong habit of responsible drinking.

Be a Proud Abstainer

Be a good role model for your teen by showing them how to behave around alcohol. You can start by trying not to drink in front of your children when they are young and impressionable. Studies have shown that children who have witnessed their parents drinking or being drunk have a greater risk of drinking during their teenage years, as compared to children who have not been exposed to such behaviour during their childhood years. Children can be aware of parents' consumption of alcohol from as young as three years old.

Even if you have that occasional drink with your buddies after work, stay within the drinking limit. You don’t want to reek of alcohol when your children hug you, or when your teen seeks for your advice!

You can also underlie the importance of self-control and sticking to the drinking limits one has established. This means refusing that extra can of beer or sip of wine beyond your intended limits.

It’s never too early to start building the right ideas about staying alcohol-free or being a responsible drinker.

Related: How to Raise that Non-Alcoholic Glass and Survive

Keep the Pantry Light at Home

There's no real need to stock up on alcohol at home for guests. You can try other healthy options for party beverages when the festive seasons come around. Show your child that you do not need alcohol to have fun. This way, you get to save a substantial amount of money by reducing unnecessary alcohol purchases or skipping out on purchasing them altogether.

Related: How to Order Healthier Drinks

Stay Hip and Happening

Knowledge is power. You can start guiding a bright teenager by first knowing what is trending, and talk to your child about real-life incidents which help explain the harmful effects of alcohol. When someone is seen drinking alcohol or if an alcohol advertisement appears on TV, take the opportunity to discuss the facts of alcohol abuse with your child.

Instead of lecturing your teens which might just turn them off, engage them with open discussions instead on the ills of alcohol and visiting night spots. You can also set up fun ground rules even if alcohol is available, so that teens know what is safe to order.

Party places can get really creative – stay in the know so you have a good idea about the latest types of alcohol and what teens should not be ordering. These can come in innocent-sounding forms like craft beer, “Duck Fever”, “Tom Yum Martini” or “Airmail”.

Related: Life is Better When You’re Sober

Teach Them, Before They Learn to Drink Without You

The legal drinking age in Singapore is 18. Before your teen comes of age, take the time to explain the risks associated with excessive alcohol intake such as addiction, alcohol poisoning, potential liver damage as well as reduced awareness of surroundings and the loss of self-control.

You can share with your teens on the types of drinks that are high in alcohol content, e.g. a small amount of hard liquor such as whisky or vodka has higher alcohol content than beer and what to expect if they get drunk.

There are also risks when one drinks too much, which may endanger their health and personal safety. Alcohol affects the brain, and can cause changes to a person’s mood or behaviour. Alcohol can cause disinhibited behaviour — a person may lose control of his/her emotions or behaviour, or engage in dangerous activities. For some, drinking alcohol might also lead to violent behaviour [2]. Long term consequences of heavy and frequent drinking include alcohol addiction, malnutrition, liver disease, brain damage, stomach cancer, kidney damage and erectile dysfunction [2,4]. It’s also appropriate to have a talk to debunk drinking myths such as how taking oily food after one has drunk alcoholic beverages does not help one stay sober. Take it a step further by sharing tips with your teen on how they can say no or avoid drinking at social gatherings where they may be offered alcoholic drinks.

Related: Smoking, Alcohol and Drugs - Why Teens Get Hooked On This Triple Threat

Women should drink no more than one standard drink a day and men should limit themselves to two. A standard alcoholic drink contains 10 grams of alcohol, and this is roughly:

  • 1 can (330 ml) of regular beer

  • Half glass* (100 ml) of wine

  • 1 nip (30 ml) of spirit

height of glass = 15cm

Guide your teenagers to give them a head start to responsible drinking. Together, family is the best team to staying dry!

Activity: Dizzy catwalk

This is one activity you can do with your child to let him experience how alcohol consumption can affect one's balance and coordination. 

You will need:

  • A baseball bat or stick which is slightly shorter than your child

  • A roll of masking tape


Step 1: Using the masking tape, prepare a straight line about 1-2 metres in length.

Step 2: At one end of the line, hold the bat or stick upright. (You can demonstrate this step and the next steps to your child first before letting him/her try it).

Step 3: Bend down, and rest your child’s forehead on the top of the stick. 

Step 4: Keep his/her head down and spin him/her around the stick 10 times. 

Step 5: Encourage your child to walk in a straight path along the line.



Read these next:


  1. Cheong, D. (2015, Mar 01). Social workers sound alert on new generation of young drinkers. The Straits Times.
    Retrieved from
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021, Accessed 1 Feb 2022.
  3. National Health Service, "Alcohol Poisoning", 2019. Accessed 1 Feb 2022.
  4. Rehm, J. 2011, The Risks Associated with Alcohol Use and Alcoholism, Alcool Res Health 934(2): 135-143. Accessed from: on 1 Feb 2022.