​Is it all right to drink alcohol ​in front of my child? 

Even if your child is way below the legal drinking age, it is never too early to ask questions and find out how you can raise your child to be alcohol-free or, at least, a responsible drinker in future.

​Parents: to drink or not to drink 

You will probably face social situations whereby alcohol drinks are offered to you during celebrations and happy occasions. It is up to you to make a call whether to pick up that glass of alcohol and if you do, to determine how much to drink. Do bear in mind that your child could be present and might ask what you are drinking.

​​​Effects of drinking alcohol​

​Alcohol affects the brain, and can cause changes to a person’s mood or behaviour. Alcohol​ can cause disinh​ibited 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 [1].​ 

Binge drinking is dangerous

Binge​​ drinking is defined as having five or more standard alcoholic drinks on one occasion for males, and four or more standard alcoholic drinks for females. Short term effects of binge drinking include getting drunk, nausea and vomiting, blurred or double vision and hangovers. If very large amounts of alcohol are consumed, binge drinking can lead to alcohol poisoning and death [2].​​ 

Long term consequences of heavy and frequent drinking include alcohol addiction, malnutrition, liver disease, brain damage, stomach cancer, kidney damage and erectile dysfunction [1,3]​

Remember, if you choose to drink at home or outside, avoid drinking beyond the recommended li​mits fo​r men and women​. ​​

Set a healthy example 

Is it all right to drink in front of my child? Just a sip of alcohol would not hurt, would it? 

As a parent, you want to be a positive role model for your child. If you choose to drink alcohol, avoid drinking in your child's presence. 

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. 

Keep them informed about the dangers 

Did you know that children can be easily influenced by alcohol from a very young age? Reports have found that children as young as three years old are aware of their parents' consumption of alcohol or ​cigarettes. ​

"If you choose to drink, avoid drinking in front of your child." ​

Such attitudes about alcohol consumption become increasingly positive as the child gets older. By the age of 10, many children associate drinking with being liked by peers, feeling good and having increased confidence. 

To prevent your child from drinking alcohol at a young age and/or having drinking problems in future, it is important to communicate openly with him/her.​ ​

Some tips to keep your child alcohol-free ​

You may wish to adapt the following suggestions to suit your family values and cultural circumstances.​

  • Keep alcohol inaccessible to your child at home. 
  • Read about the effects of drinking alcohol so that you can teach your child the right facts and harmful effects of alcohol. 
  • Keep the lines of communication open. 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. 
  • Offer non-alcoholic drinks at parties and social events. Show your child that you do not need alcohol to have fun. 

Who needs alcohol to have​ fun? 

"Offer non-alcoholic drinks at parties and other social events instead. Show your child that you do not need alcohol to have fun.​"​ 

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. 

Parent-Child Activities​: Myth buster 

Debunk marketing myths about alcohol. Use these talking points with your child when alcohol advertisements are screened on TV.

​​​Myths Alcohol Advertisers Want Us to Believe​

​Four Myth Busters!​
​1. Alcohol is a magic potion that can transform you.​Alcohol advertisements do not show how alcohol can also make people lose control of their emotions or behaviour. This is because alcohol affects the brain and might cause changes to a person’s behaviour.​
​​​2. Sports and alcohol go hand-in-hand.​​Some sports events and players are sponsored (paid) by alcohol companies. The truth is that drinking alcohol causes ​one to run slower or cannot jump as high! This is due to poor muscle coordination.​
​3. Drinking is a risk-free and fun activity.​​​While every alcohol advertisement will show that drinking is safe and fun, we should be aware of what they do not show — for example, the vomiting, getting into fights, accidents occurring ​​​when one is drunk.​
4. We need alcohol to have fun.​​Advertisers want you to believe that alcohol is important to have at a great party or outing with your friends. However, there are many ways to have fun without alcohol - be it swimming or other sports activities, shopping, watching a movie, or just hanging out with friends. The truth is all these activities are so much more fun without alcohol!
"While every alcohol advertisement will show that drinking is safe and fun, we should be aware of what they do not show — for example, vomiting, getting into fights, accidents occurring ​when one is drunk." 


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021, https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/alcohol-use.htm.Accessed 1 Feb 2022.
  2. National Health Service, "Alcohol Poisoning", 2019. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/alcohol-poisoning/. Accessed 1 Feb 2022
  3. Rehm, J. 2011, The Risks Associated with Alcohol Use and Alcoholism, Alcool Res Health 934(2): 135-143. Accessed from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3307043/ on 1 Feb 2022.

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