Helping children to develop good habits–from brushing their teeth twice daily to using alcohol responsibly–is a huge part of a parent’s job. When it comes to talking about gambling, parents must use the same open attitude as they do with other subjects, and they must provide real facts to their children.
Why Discuss Gambling?
Why even talk about gambling to your children? You speak to them about gambling because it’s no different than speaking to them about other areas where you want them to build good, healthy habits. good, healthy habits. You want your children to be able to enjoy the benefits and sport of gambling without overdoing it. Parents should be aware, if they aren’t already, that while a person cannot gamble at a commercial casino legally until age 21, there are lots of opportunities for kids to engage in betting–playing cards for money or betting on sports with friends, for instance.
Speak Openly About Gambling
Because adolescents tend to be at a greater risk than adults for developing problem gambling habits, it’s important to speak to children early. Try to have the conversation in the context of something relevant going on: when you are watching the announcement of lottery winners on television is an optimal time. Since it’s a pretty sure bet that children have already seen some gambling going on, start the conversation with that assumption, “What kind of betting are the kids at school doing?” From there you can talk about legal gambling and illegal gambling. Make sure you have all the facts about the state you live in, so that you are giving accurate information. Avoid just spouting gambling myths. Kids are good at sensing when you are on shaky ground.
Let Children Know Your Expectations
Setting rules and monitoring your child’s behaviour is something a responsible parent does every day. Gambling is just one more of the behaviours you will want to keep on your radar screen. State the expectations you have for your child about gambling (and all behaviours, for that matter) and be honest about why you have them. Listen to your child, ask questions, and encourage him or her to ask questions, too.
As in all areas of parenting, open communication is vital. Talking to children about the risks of gambling is important because this awareness helps children avoid gambling problems. Children who clearly understand their parents’ approach to gambling are also more likely to avoid problems.
Set a Good Example
Most important is that parents set a good example for their children. Children of problem gamblers are more likely to develop a problem themselves, so demonstrating healthy betting habits is the best thing parents can do to prevent a problem in their children. If you are gamble responsibly, it is very likely that your children will, too. Recognize and embrace the influence you have on your children’s habits–both good and bad ones. Even when your children do not seem to be listening to you, they are certainly watching you.
Michael Goldstone often writes about various topics related to online games and casinos. When not writing, he spends his time watching football matches, travelling the world and playing casino slots online.