Education Matters: Looking after young people’s wellbeing

Drinkaware Education Matters Blog

The arrival of Covid-19 has brought about new pressures and stresses and especially so for young people. More than ever, young people need to be supported and encouraged to cope with challenges and develop the skills and resources which promote wellbeing and enable them to live happy, healthy lives.

But what is wellbeing? It is generally agreed it includes the presence of positive emotions, judging life positively, feeling good, being healthy and happy. Wellbeing emanates from our thoughts, feelings, actions, and experiences. A young person’s sense of wellbeing is fundamental to their ability to function in society and meet everyday demands.

While young people themselves play a role in safeguarding and promoting their own wellbeing and happiness, parents, school and community play a significant role. As a parent it takes time, effort, and energy to support your adolescents’ wellbeing and enable them to develop new skills. You may struggle at times but the more you work at developing your own and your children’s wellbeing the easier it becomes for all involved to be resilient, to bounce back after a crisis or a loss and to live an enriching life.

Adolescence is a time of transition when young people need to develop the physical and behavioural skills to enable them to live independently of parents and sustain themselves. It is also a time of greater interaction socially with peers and a time of risk taking.

ALCOHOL’S IMPACT ON ADOLESCENCE

The consumption, and effects of alcohol on the brain during adolescence, can be very serious. Disruption to the brain’s growth by alcohol consumption can lead to long-term alterations, impacting young people’s behaviour and lives as adults including memory, motor skills and co-ordination. Underage drinking can also lead to unintentional death and injury, risk taking behaviour, violence, and vandalism.

Parents and significant adults in a young person’s life (teachers, childminders, extended family, and neighbours) can play an important role in delaying the age of first drink and reducing alcohol misuse. Take time to reflect on the opportunities you create to be present to the young person.

  • What does s/he learn from your attitude and behaviour around alcohol?
  • What do you do to cope with stress? Disappointment?
  • Have you talked to young person about alcohol and listened to his/her views?
  • What fun or outdoor activities do you as a parent engage in with your child?
  • Do you pass on your skills e.g. gardening, cooking, music, to your child?
  • Do you model how to deal with and process challenging emotions for young person?
  • Are you giving your time and attention to the people and things that are important, and that you value in your life?

Adolescents have a strong need to be loved, accepted and to belong. Having unconditional love for your child is a stepping-stone to his/her wellbeing. Wellbeing cannot be measured or bought by money. Never underestimate your influence for good or the opposite in a young person’s development and choices. What you do matters. Growing our wellbeing is a lifelong endeavour.

GET IN TOUCH

Drinkaware offers a virtual workshop to support parents to have the conversation about alcohol with their child/teen. For information, contact Martha Sweeney, Drinkaware Education Programme Manager. Email: martha@drinkaware.ie I Mobile: 087 919 7253