How to Influence Young People to Stay Safe and Well as They Celebrate Exam Results

Michelle

July 24, 2023

Celebrate exam results

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Calling all Parents of exam students! Firstly congrats to all of you parents who have young people who sat the Junior and Leaving Cert. Both significant milestones in your life and especially in your child’s life. 

With results night just around the corner, we have teamed up with Drinkaware to bring you some tips and advice on how you can influence your young person to stay safe and well as they celebrate exam results.

How to Celebrate Exam Results Night Safely

While celebrations such as receiving exam results are meant to be enjoyed, it is important that young people maintain a balanced approach, have fun and act responsibly while cherishing the occasion. 

You, as a parent, play a crucial role in influencing young people (even when they are young adults) to celebrate safely, especially when there is a possibility of risk or harm.

The Impact of Getting Exam Results

celebrate exam results

Receiving exam results can bring heightened emotions. It is important to listen to and support your child with the many mixed emotions they may feel. These heightened emotions may lead young people to take risks, particularly when they want to celebrate these milestones.

For those who sat the Leaving Cert, it is also a time of huge change. Young people can experience a sense of sadness, as they may be leaving the old and familiar behind. Others will experience uncertainty about the possibility of moving away from home and into the unknown.

For some there will be anxiety and stress, especially if they feel they did not do well. Or they may experience joy and elation at the thoughts of entering the adult world.

Be Informed

It is important that you are informed about the risks associated with alcohol so that you can chat openly and honestly to your young person.

Drinkaware can help with their dedicated parent hub where they offer online supports, information and resources. In addition, they run regular webinars for parents.

Their next webinar – “Parents’ role in influencing young people to celebrate safely.” takes place from 1pm to 2pm on Tuesday August 22nd.  Register for this Drinkaware Webinar today!

This is your opportunity, as a parent, to engage with your young person in a wholesome way and enable them to celebrate achievements and enjoy success without the need for exposing themselves to the risks of alcohol or binge drinking.

Did you know for instance, that young people who start drinking before the age of 15 are four times more likely to develop alcohol-related problems later in life than those who wait until 21 years? (1)

Be Aware

Adolescents fear social rejection so the way they celebrate may reflect this as they may engage in behaviours that will increase their sense of belonging and connection with their peer group.

As a parent, it is important you are aware of how your child is planning to celebrate exam results night. Ask them how they plan to celebrate and get a conversation going, rather than telling them what to do.

This can help them share their concerns or fears with you and open up about difficulties they or their friends have experienced to date when socialising.

Be There

Trust is an important attribute to develop together as your child grows. Not only your trust in them and confidence that you have given them the skills to be resilient and make good decisions, but their trust in you.

When it comes to exam celebrations night, ensure your young person knows that you are there for them should they need you. That you are just a phone call away.

Some parents have told us that they have a ‘safe’ word or phrase agreed in advance with their child. If they call or message using the word or phrase, it is their way of letting  you know they need your help, without losing face in front of friends.

Talking Matters

Order your free ‘Talking Matters’ booklet from Drinkaware for advice and support on having the conversation

Talking Matters alcohol and young people

Get Them Home Safely

Exam results night is not the night for sleepovers. In a recent survey we carried out with parents, unsupervised parties were amongst the top concerns parents have when it comes to their young person and alcohol.

Insist on picking up your young person at an agreed time, so you can be reassured that they get home safely and come to no harm. 

Your Behaviour Matters

talking matters alcohol and young people

Parents lead by example and modelling responsible behaviour is very important as young people emulate parental behaviour. It helps them develop responsible decision making and to understand there are consequences to behaviour – all valuable skills for living and working.

Showing them that alcohol isn’t an essential requirement for you to celebrate an achievement or to mark an occasion or to have fun can have a powerful impact on their future decision making.

Your Attitude Matters

Your attitudes and behaviour during this milestone can impact the young person’s attitudes, actions and behaviour.

Alcohol really should have no place in celebrations for those under 18 years old and should be treated with caution and respect by those over 18.

The brain is still developing up to the age of 24 and alcohol impacts memory and the decisions made while under the influence. Delaying a young person’s drinking age reduces the risk of harmful drinking later in life. (2)

Put Boundaries in Place

Young people need to be aware of potential dangers linked to unsafe behaviours such as harmful alcohol consumption, reckless driving, or other risky activity.

They need to know of potential consequences, both personal and legal that may arise from such behaviours.

Having boundaries in place, that are agreed together in advance, can help keep them safe and well on nights out.

Your Influence Matters

Parents and Family members have the single strongest influence of all external factors on young people’s attitudes towards drinking. (3) This was also identified by young people themselves (4) where they identified parents as being the main source of information on alcohol.

Having a good quality parent/child relationship is connected with delayed alcohol initiation and reduced later alcohol use. (5) Delaying alcohol consumption is important as research shows that 1 in 3 or 38% of young people aged 15 to 24 have an alcohol use disorder (AUD). (6)

By showing young people you are operating out of a place of love and respect you can really have an impact on the future they are creating for themselves.

Celebrating Safely

celebrate exam results

Celebrating safely by staying sober reduces the risk of accidents and injuries to self or others and involves responsible decision-making.

This is the beginning of a new phase with new opportunities and new challenges for your young person.

They still need you – your presence, love and support in their lives. Do not underestimate that need or your influence.

Take care of yourself and mind your own health and wellbeing. You are their greatest resource!

Support For Parents and Young People

What's On

For further support and information please register for Drinkaware Webinar“Parents’ role in influencing young people to celebrate safely.”

It takes place from 1.00pm -2.00pm on Tuesday 22nd August. The webinar aims to:

  • Highlight the important role of parents in supporting young people to celebrate safely
  • Provide you with facts, knowledge and tips to help you have a conversation about celebrations and alcohol with your young person
  • Offer tips and advice on how to stay safe, especially if choosing to drink
  • Establish what other supports would benefit Parents.

Sources:
(1) Grant et al (1997) cited in Mongan et al (2007) Health Related Consequences of Problem Alcohol Use. Overview 6. Dublin. Health Research Board.
(2) Straight Talk – A Guide For Parents on Teenage Drinking, Health Promotion Unit, H.S.E.
(3) Behaviour & Attitudes (2016). Alcohol Education. Is it meeting the Needs of Junior Certificate Students? Dublin: Report Commissioned by Drinkaware.
(4) The Drinkaware Index (2019): Analysing Hazardous Drinking in Ireland. Dublin, Drinkaware
(5) S. M. Ryan, et al, Parents Factors Associated with Reduced Adolescent Alcohol Use, (Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 2010) p 779.
(6) Health Research Board (2022) HRB Overview Series 12 Alcohol and other drug use among children and young people in Ireland: prevalence, risk and protective factors, consequences, responses, and policies Anne Doyle, Salome Sunday, Brian Galvin, Deirdre Mongan

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Celebrate exam results safely

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