Talk to Your Child About What to Expect

Your teenager will get expectations of what their end of school celebrations will be like from school mates, and other friends. As a parent you can discuss and explain how drinking alcohol can impact on their experience.

It is important to provide young people with factual information about alcohol. Talking to your child about alcohol does not mean you are condoning drinking alcohol.

Ask your child what they expect will happen during their end of school celebrations and how they feel about it. It may be the first time they have been away from home without adult supervision and it may have them feeling anxious even though they are excited to go. [1] Explain that you want them to have fun and enjoy themselves, but you would like to make sure that they are going to be safe.

By discussing the potential risks your child may face during these celebrations through consuming alcohol, you can help them prepare strategies to stay safe.

Some ideas for discussion with your child include the following:

How to look after themselves and their friends

  • Discuss your expectations about alcohol and the reasons why. You could negotiate an agreement with them about not drinking alcohol during these celebrations and discuss what will happen if they break their agreement.
  • Encourage your child to participate in organised activities during their end of school celebrations that don’t include alcohol.
  • Encourage your child to look online to see if there are activities being run at their chosen destination for their end of school celebrations
  • Suggest good responses for your child to use to refuse alcohol when it is offered and learn to feel comfortable to say no. Having a prepared response makes it easier for people to refuse alcohol when the time comes.
  • It is not okay to keeping drinking until they feel unwell, vomit, pass out or need to be hospitalised. If they drink too much alcohol they could choke on their own vomit or experience alcohol poisoning which can be fatal.
  • It is easy to drink too much alcohol when you don’t know how alcohol will affect you, and that finding out how you react to alcohol in this very public setting could be potentially dangerous.
  • Suggest alternatives to drinking alcohol such as a soft drink, juices and sparkling water.
  • Never leave a friend alone if they are drunk or drinking alcohol as they may find themselves in trouble [2]
  • Discuss where to get help for themselves or their friends should the need arise. Make sure that your child understands that it is okay to contact you at any time if something goes wrong or if they are in a situation where they feel out of their depth [3]

How does alcohol impact young people?

Alcohol use by young people can increase the risk of:

  • Violence, abuse and fights.
  • Accidental injuries such as road crashes, pedestrian accidents and drowning.
  • Depression, self-harm and suicide.
  • Unwanted or unsafe sexual activities.
  • Illicit drug use.
  • Sexually transmitted infections and unplanned pregnancy.
  • Family and other relationship difficulties.
  • Long-term physical damage, particularly to the liver, stomach and brain, caused by regular harmful drinking.

What are the health effects of alcohol use?

The short-term effects of alcohol on the body and what happens if a person drinks too much alcohol. For example: vomiting, loss of coordination, blacking out etc.

Problems with other people and how to avoid them

Discuss how other people’s drinking may affect them and help them to develop responses to these situations should they arise. Some examples could be how to defuse aggression and how to avoid getting into a car with someone who is intoxicated. [4]

  • Discuss why it is important to stay away from people or groups who are being insulting, abusive or who they feel may cause a problem. You can explain that being in a situation where people or groups are acting in this way increases the likelihood of problems occurring [3]
  • Explain that being drunk when they are with large groups of people they don’t know can make them vulnerable to violence, sexual assault and other harms.

[1] Munro G. (2012). Schoolies: advice for parents. Available at:

[2] National Drug Research Institute. (2013). School leavers’ celebrations: Tips for celebrating students. Available at: students factsheet.pdf.

[3] Government of Western Australia. Leavers celebrate together. Available at:

[4] Allsop, S. (2012). How to set teens up for a healthy relationship with alcohol. Available at: