Make talking about gambling a regular thing
Like all potentially awkward conversations – from online safety to sex – the more you talk about it, the more comfortable you’ll feel. So rather than having one big ‘just say no’ conversation about gambling, it’s a good idea to chat about the risks and consequences regularly, so your child feels comfortable to approach you on the topic. For example, if you’re watching sport together you could talk about the gambling adverts you see, or if you hear a gambling advert on the radio you could ask them what they think about it.
Find out more about gambling
A great starting point is awareness of the kind of gambling children are more likely to get involved with, and the harm gambling can do. To learn more, visit the Problem Gambling website: www.problemgambling.ie/youth-gambling-ireland.html
Ask your child what they think about gambling
It’s a good idea to ask your child what they think about gambling before offering your own opinion. This could be a great way to correct any misunderstandings they may have. For example, they may think it’s ‘just a bit of fun’, or that ‘everybody does it’. Remember that the way you answer any questions may affect how comfortable they feel approaching you in future to talk about gambling so it’s best to make it a discussion not a lecture!
Challenge the adverts
When you come across gambling adverts, encourage your child to think critically about how gambling is represented as fun, exciting and cool. Remind them that behind the adverts is a business looking to make money!
Let your child know that gambling isn’t a way to make money
Talk with your child about how they spend their money, and explain that gambling should never be seen as a way to make money or recover lost money. It may also be helpful to explain that, in the end, “the house always wins”, meaning anyone that gambles is always more likely to lose than win.
Talk about the harms and risks of gambling
Gambling is often made to seem like a normal part of everyday life, without any negative effects. So it’s a good idea to discuss with your child the risks and consequences of gambling. For example, you could talk to them about how they could end up losing a lot of money, or how gambling could have a negative impact on their wellbeing and friendships Be careful to avoid scare tactics though, as they can often have the opposite desired impact.
Be conscious of your own gambling and its impact
If you gamble, be aware of your influence on your child and discuss with them what it means to gamble safely. If you or someone you live with is experiencing gambling harms, Hospital, Croom and Northside Family Resource Centres provide one to one Counselling for anyone over the age of 16 who is struggling with harmful gambling or impacted by the gambling behaviour of another person. For more information contact Brenda at firstname.lastname@example.org
This article was contributed by a member of Parenting Limerick, Brenda O’Keeffe, on behalf of Hospital FRC. Brenda provides supports to people impacted by harmful gambling. You can contact her on 083 2076403 or email email@example.com for support or information. Parenting Limerick IS a network of parenting and family support organisations in Limerick. For more information on this and other topics go to www.loveparenting.ie.