Underage drinking is a serious societal concern, yet relatively little is known about child sipping of alcohol and its relation to beliefs about alcohol. The current study aimed to (1) examine the contexts in which the first sip of alcohol occurs (e.g., type of alcohol, who provided sip, sip offered or taken without permission); (2) examine the association between sipping and alcohol expectancies; and (3) explore how different contexts of sipping are related to alcohol expectancies. We expected to find that children who had sipped alcohol would have increased positive expectancies and reduced negative expectancies compared to children who had never sipped alcohol.
Data were derived from the 2.0 release of the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) study, a longitudinal study of children in the United States. We utilized data from 4,842 children ages 9 to 11; 52% were male, 60% were White, 19% were Hispanic/Latinx, and 9% were Black/African American.
We found that 22% of the sample had sipped alcohol. Children reported sipping beer most frequently, and the drink most often belonged to the child’s father. We found that children who had sipped had higher positive alcohol expectancies than children who had not while accounting for variables related to alcohol expectancies. Child sipping was not significantly associated with negative expectancies and the context of the first sip of alcohol was not significantly associated with positive and negative expectancies.
Providing sips of alcohol to children is associated with them having more favorable expectations about drinking.