This article first appeared on Counsellor Sam and has been republished with full permission.
Many parents are concerned about how gambling advertising might affect their children, but they don’t know how to approach the issue. Gambling Help NSW has provided a useful resource to help parents talk to teenagers about gambling, the Talking to teens about gambling: guide for parents and carers.
Encouraging your teen to think critically about gambling can help prevent them from developing problems in the future.
Don’t demand that they promise never to gamble. They might make the promise but they’re unlikely to keep it in the long run. Instead, talk to them about facts, realities of gambling and make sure they understand the odds.
The guide has some suggested questions and facts to share. If your teenager understands the potential consequences, they will be better prepared to make responsible decisions, should they decide to try gambling.
Make sure your teenager always knows they can talk to you about their problems and concerns — and that no matter what, you’ll always love them and won’t judge them.
You might suspect that your teen is already experimenting with gambling. Young people can be vulnerable because they’re more likely to be impulsive, and less likely to understand risks and consequences. Some signs to watch out for include:
- your teenager is uncharacteristically broke or makes sudden changes in spending behaviour
- slipping grades
- moodiness and social withdrawal
- strange sleep patterns
- irritability or lethargy
- obsessive discussion of sports and other events only in terms of the odds.
If you have concerns for your teen, consider calling the Gambling Helpline, 1800 858 858, available for free 24/7. You will reach a qualified counsellor who can advise you on your specific circumstances and help you devise a strategy to approach the problem.