The scenario isn't too uncommon: It's the holidays, guests are enjoying some cheer and, during a toast, the children are offered a sip — just a tiny sip — of Champagne, wine or beer.
A new study confirms that it's not a good idea.
Allowing children a taste of alcohol can lead to drinking problems when they are teens, found scientists at RTI International, a nonprofit research group based in North Carolina, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
About 33 percent of the third graders in the recent study in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine said they had tried alcohol. Of the 1,050 mothers who participated, 40 percent said prohibiting children from trying alcohol would make it more appealing. Twenty percent said they thought early exposure would prevent problems later on, including peer pressure and risky drinking.
The researchers suggest that the opposite can be true.
“These findings indicate that many parents mistakenly expect that the way children drink at home, under parental supervision, will be replicated when children are with peers,” says Christine Jackson, a social ecologist at RTI International and the study's lead author. “More research is needed to understand how parents acquire these ideas and to understand the relationship between early sipping and alcohol use in adolescence.”