Children see elders drinking pretty early. These days, even at first and second birthday parties, there is a bar that is open for adults. For the first two years, kids don’t really absorb what adults are doing and don’t question too much. But by the age of three their sense of identity kicks in and they want to imitate grown-ups. They pretend to cook, go to the office, and talk on toy mobile phones. When they see their mamma or papa holding a drink that looks different from the chair or juices they are used to seeing, they are bound to get interested. 


If your child is under four and asking for a sip of your drink, you can simply offer a similar colored juice in a fancy glass. That should do the trick. Most likely, your son or daughter will be too pleased to ask any further questions. Between the ages of four and seven years, children get more inquisitive and may even spot the drink that you are offering is not exactly the same color or consistency.


You can then say:-

“This is a beverage for adults. It is not healthy but in small quantities big people can digest it.”  If they continue to pester and insist on knowing why they can’t have a drink, tell them that there are some things that adults can do and kids can’t such as driving and other activities that kids can indulge in but which adults can’t enjoy such as jumping on a trampoline or diving into a ball pool at a play zone.


Stress on the fact that there is a right age for everything. Point out that while your child can enjoy pizza, you can’t give a slice to a small baby because he or she cannot chew or digest it. Similarly, alcohol cannot be digested by a child’s body. It is harmful for their developing organs including the brain.


We did not ask these questions when we were kids because we grew up in a different world and followed a culture where we were supposed to obey. These days, we encourage debate and discussion. Our children have been taught to question. We cannot isolate alcohol and expect them to obey us in this matter.


We need to remember that saying “NO” is acceptable and kids do listen provided we are not saying ‘no’ by default for everything. It is important to be reasonable. Also, when you say no, you have to offer an alternative. This applies to every aspect of parenting. Every time you deny a child something, you have to give something else which is appealing in exchange. So, if you are at a restaurant and you’re ordering yourself a whisky, ask your child to pick a virgin mojito, a cucumber cooler or any other interesting mocktail. The prospect of trying something new usually overpowers the desire for your drink.


Another question that troubles parents when they are drinking. How much is too much in front of kids? The answer to this does not lie in the number. Children are not counting the number of pegs you take. But they are observing your behavior.


You can drink provided it does not alter the way you act. You don’t want your child to see you get too quiet, too gregarious or too aggressive after drinking. Alterations in behavior scare children because they don’t know what to make of it. Kids get very upset if they witness their sloshed parents fall on the floor.


It is important for parents to remember that children thrive on security. They like to believe that their parents are invincible. In fact, none of us like to see our parents fall, fumble or fall. If a child sees his or her parents out of control, it shakes their world. So, figure out your tipping point and stop drinking before you reach that. 


Of course, you can’t prevent others from getting hammered. If you are heading to a party where you know you are likely to see people who are drunk, it is best to leave the kids behind. 

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