Rubbing alcohol on a teething baby’s gum line, or allowing a curious child a sip of alcohol is not that uncommon. Many parents do not think there is anything wrong with a sip here or there, especially if the taste may be so off-putting that children have negative memories associated with alcohol and may not want to drink when they get in their teenage years. However, researchers have determined that not only is early sipping not effective in preventing further underage drinking, it actually increases the chances that a child will engage in underage drinking.
In order to stop parents from allowing their child to have small sips of alcohol, it is important to dispel the myth that small quantities of alcohol are ok for young children. Alcohol addiction is one of the leading causes of death in the United States, and the warning signs can start very early on in life. A history of small sips of alcohol is just one of the factors that can contribute to a later in life abuse issue.
“Child sipping is related to earlier initiation of drinking, which is a risk factor for a lot of other problem behaviors. Parents should not be providing alcohol to their kids,” explained John E. Donovan, a professor of psychiatry from the University of Pittsburgh.
Another common trend is parents providing their underage children alcohol, either for parties or with the understanding that the child will only drink in the family home. Studies show that these parents are not necessarily uncaring or negligent, oftentimes these parents provide alcohol because they feel that the child would have access to it anyway. In addition to an increased likelihood of alcohol abuse, early sipping of alcohol can lead to behavioral problems as well. Poor social and coping skills are common in children that have engaged in underage drinking because alcohol has an extremely negative effect on developing brains.
In order to prevent children from getting started on the path of alcohol, parents are strongly encouraged to prevent their children from drinking, even small sips. Understanding that allowing children access to alcohol increases the chances for future problems regarding alcohol is the first step in ensuring that future generations will not be more likely to engage in poor alcohol habits.