Parental drinking and characteristics of family life as predictors of preschoolers’ alcohol-related knowledge and norms Academic Article uri icon


  • While risky drinking in adolescence has been found to be rooted in childhood, evidence is scarce regarding where early alcohol-related knowledge originates. This study investigates preschoolers' alcohol-related knowledge about beverage names, content and social norms (i.e. drinking to be common among men and at parties) depending on parental alcohol consumption patterns and characteristics of family life. In French-speaking Switzerland, 214 three to six year olds completed the electronic Appropriate Beverage Task (Kuntsche, Le Mével, & Zucker, 2016) while their parents (205 mothers, 154 fathers) were surveyed with a questionnaire. The results showed that when parents drank frequently, at higher quantity, or during meals, their children knew more about the names of alcoholic beverages and the social norms of consumption. No effect was found for parental binge drinking or living in a single-parent household. Frequent contact with adults outside the immediate family (visits from relatives and going to fairs and neighborhood parties) but not television viewing was associated with both knowing the name and the alcoholic content of alcoholic beverages. To conclude, this study indicates that the knowledge of children aged three to six about the content, name and consumption norms of alcoholic beverages does not only depend on the drinking frequency and quantity of their parents, but also on contact with adults outside the immediate family. When frequently surrounded by alcohol-consuming adults, children may get the impression that alcohol consumption is a common human behavior, which may put them at risk for early alcohol initiation and risky drinking later in life.

publication date

  • 2019