BEIJING, Sep. 6 (Xinhuanet)-- Children as young as 2 years old are more likely to be influenced by their parents' smoking and drinking habits, a novel study has shown.Source. (emphasis mine)
In a study of 2- to 6-year-olds, children pretending to "shop" for groceries for a hungry doll were four times more likely to choose cigarettes if their parents smoked and three times more likely to pick wine or beer if their parents drank at least once a month.
Boy that sure puts a damper on the whole idea of, "Well, my kid is only two and he's not going to notice or even remember if I have a beer after work." Once a month people! Once a month is all it takes to put this concept into your children's young impressionable minds. Imagine how much more likely the kid whose parents had one beer a night every day after work would be to pick up beer in play time shopping! And if you think this won't continue because it's only play, think again.
When you instill something in a child at such a young age, when they grow up in it, it becomes normal to them. It is accepted behavior. And when the child grows up and starts drinking for real, what are you going to say then? You can't surely expect to stand in front of your sons and daughters as they tell their consolers that they have been drinking for years and expect to have any credibility when you say "I don't know where he learned this behavior! We didn't raise him to get drunk or stoned!"
If you don't want to deal with that later don't do it now. Set an example. It isn't just about smoking and drinking. It's everything. Kids learn from their parents, that is a fact. Don't want a liar? Start being honest and encourage them to be honest as well. Don't want a rebellious teen? Set boundaries when they are little (And yes, I realize there is more to it than that, but that's where you start). Don't want a kid that screams and hits when she is angry? Control your temper and don't put violence in front of them.
Researchers observing the children's play found that the ones who watched PG-13 or R-rated movies also were more likely to choose alcohol for Barbie.
Parents should be careful about the movies their children watch, said Craig Anderson, who studies media violence at Iowa State University. "Kids are basically little learning machines. Whatever the content is in front of them, they're going to pick it up," Anderson said.