When It Comes to Your Kids
They Do As You Say
A new study finds that even children as young as two are more likely to "smoke" and "drink" in play if their parents are smokers or drinkers. Toddlers were also more likely to exhibit these behaviors if they are allowed to watch PG-13 or R rated movies.
First Study On Toddlers
The fact that parental behavior influences the behavior of children is well known. This is, however, the first study demonstrating the effects in children this young.
For the study, 120 children between the ages of 3 and 6 were allowed to go "pretend" grocery shopping:
- 28 percent of the children bought cigarettes
- 61 percent bought alcohol
Three to Five Times More Likely
Children were four times as likely to "buy" cigarettes if their parents smoked, and three times as likely to buy alcohol if their parents drank at least once a month. Children allowed to watch non-G rated movies were five times more likely to buy alcohol.
Some children even recognized specific brands of cigarettes based on the brands their parents smoke. Others play acted pouring drinks or lighting cigarettes.
It is believed that the study shows that children have "social cognitive scripts" for adult life, and form beliefs about what behaviors are appropriate at a very young age.
Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine September 2005; 159:854-859