Children are keen observers. Most of the time, they are curiously watching how adults behave. The way their family members smell, taste and consume alcoholic beverages can also leave a lasting impression in their young minds. Although in Europe, giving children ounces of beverages like wine during meals is common, it’s a highly controversial subject in the USA.
A recent study published in the renowned journal, Addictive Behaviors showed that children who sipped or tasted alcohol were more likely to become heavy drinkers and have alcohol-related problems in late adolescence.
Consequences Of Letting Children Sip Alcohol
For many kids, the first direct experience with alcohol happens under or away from parental supervision at home. Past studies have reported that the prevalence of early sipping or tasting alcohol ranges between 20 percent and 50 percent among 8–10-year-old children. Researchers are of the view that kids who face no resistance from their parents while indulging in underage drinking were more likely to develop alcoholism.23
The current study was conducted to assess the association between early sipping with frequency and quantity of alcohol use and alcohol-related problems in teenage years.
The following participants were chosen for the study:
Investigation 1: About 387 families who had children within 11–12 years of age participated in the study.
Investigation 2: About 378 families who had children within 10–12 years of age participated in the study.
Both samples were assessed annually for 7 years. Various questionnaires were used to assess alcohol use with and without parental permission and to quantify the frequency of alcohol use.
Significant Results From The Study
Alarming findings derived from the study were as follows:
- Alcohol use with parental permission prior to age 13 was common (34 percent) but it was infrequent and involved small quantities (< 1 drink).
- Early sippers often came from family environments with parental alcohol use, less restriction on alcohol use and lenient parental attitudes about under-age drinking.
- Those who sipped or tasted alcohol with parental permission drank more frequently, consumed more drinks per drinking day, and experienced more alcohol-related problems.
- Sipping or tasting was associated with a 49 percent increase in the number of drinking days, a 19 percent increase in drinks per drinking day, and a 45 percent increase in the number of alcohol-related problems.
According to the researchers,
“These findings suggest that early sipping or tasting is part of an ecology that shapes cognitive appraisals of alcohol, paving the way for increased alcohol involvement.”
Therefore, parents should discourage children from trying out alcohol at any cost. Not only will it keep your kids protected from getting addicted in the future but will also prevent the onset of several problems (both personal and social) in their lives