Prepare for peer influence

Peers are a major influence during adolescence

As your child approaches adolescence, friends and “fitting in” becomes very important, but obtaining acceptance from peers can be difficult. Your adolescent’s friends are a major influence on their decisions about alcohol. Your adolescent is more likely to drink if their friends do. However, despite the growing influence of peers, you can still have a positive influence on your adolescent’s alcohol use. A good relationship with your adolescent will reduce any negative influence from their friends.

Encourage positive friendships

Get to know your adolescent's friends. Encourage your adolescent to invite their friends over when you are at home. This will allow you to get to know your adolescent’s friends better and help you learn about your adolescent’s activities. Talk to your adolescent’s friends and try to interact with them. Talk to your adolescent about qualities that really count in a friend, such as being kind and trustworthy, rather than popular and “cool”.

Enlist the support of other parents

Build a support network with other parents. The families of your adolescent's friends may have different values and attitudes regarding alcohol to yours and this may cause some difficulty in maintaining rules regarding alcohol for your adolescent.

Dealing with peer pressure to drink

Your adolescent may find themselves in situations where it is difficult for them to say no to alcohol, because of peer pressure. Try to prepare them by focussing on specific situations that they may encounter and talk about different ways they can deal with peer pressure to drink. Tell your adolescent that the decision whether or not to drink is theirs, and not their friends’. Help them develop ways to say no to offers of alcohol before they are faced with situations where this may occur.

Remember that peers can also be a positive influence. Encourage your adolescent to support others who experience peer pressure to use alcohol.