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Signs your child may not be coping

signs your child may not be coping

Children don't always have the words to express their feelings. If they are suffering or struggling to cope with the effects of someone's problem drinking, they may show it in other ways.

Physical symptoms of stress

    • Loss of appetite
    • Frequent stomach pain or headaches
    • Nightmares or trouble sleeping

Mood problems

    • Depression
    • Poor self-esteem
    • Anxiety
    • Getting upset easily
    • Acting childishly, bedwetting or speech disorders
    • Not wanting to leave the house or mix with other people

Behaviour problems

    • Being aggressive
    • Getting into trouble
    • Overly well-behaved and obedient
    • Looking for approval all the time
    • Difficulty making friends
    • Taking risks

If you recognise any of these signs, it may help to:

We have a section especially for young people affected by a family member's drinking. Click here to go to the young people's pages.

Read more:

What you can do to help a child

Making small changes

Building resilience

Support services for families


Hope, A., Curran, J., Bell, G. & Platts, A. (2013). Unrecognised and under-reported: the impact of alcohol on people other than the drinker in Scotland. Glasgow, Scotland: Alcohol Focus Scotland.    
Hope A. (2011). Hidden Realities: Children’s exposure to risks from parental drinking in Ireland. NWAF
Hope A (2014). Alcohol’s harm to others in Ireland. Dublin: Health Service Executive
Room R, Ferris J, Laslett AM, Livingston M, Mugavin J & Wilkinson C. (2010). The drinker’s effect on the social environment: A conceptual framework for studying alcohol’s harm to others. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 7, 1855-1871; doi10.3390//ijerph7041855
Rossow I & Hauge R (2004). Who pays for the drinking? Characteristics of the extent and distribution of social harms from others’ drinking. Addiction, 99, 1094-1102.

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