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Help Your Child Stay Smoke Free

No parent wants to imagine his or her child picking up a cigarette. Unfortunately, the reality is many kids begin to smoke by taking a puff a few times here and there, and then suddenly smoking turns into a full blown habit. In fact, most smokers picked up the habit when they were young, likely as the result of peer pressure from friends or older siblings.

Talk about Smoking with your Child

The more you talk to your child about the consequences of smoking, the less likely he will be to ever pick up a cigarette. Preventing the "first puff" gives your child the opportunity to avoid a damaging and costly habit. Help your child resist cigarettes by implementing the following steps:

  • Set a good example. Smoking is more common amongst children who have parents who are smokers. If you smoke, quit so that your child can take your advice about smoking seriously and learn a valuable lesson.
  • Make your disapproval heard, loud and clear. Make it known to your child that smoking will not be tolerated. If you make your child aware of these restrictions, he'll be less likely to entertain the idea of smoking. Additionally, kids who feel closer to their parents are also less likely to smoke.
  • Do your homework. Sit him down and go over the costs of maintaining a smoking habit. Inform him of the average cost of cigarettes and how much this habit could cost him over the years. You can compare this cost to that of buying clothes, cell phones, etc.
  • Appeal to his vanity. Let your teen know that smoking is sure to have a negative impact on his looks. "Did you know that smoking causes your teeth and fingernails to turn yellow?" or "Smoking results in damaged lungs, which will make it harder for you to run and enjoy your favorite sport."
  • Anticipate peer pressure. Go over ways to combat peer pressure with your child. Although "no" may seem like a good enough answer, rehearse additional comebacks. "No thanks, I don't like the way cigarettes smell," or "No, it's just not my thing."
  • Provide supplementary information. Give your child an example of a family member, friend, celebrity, etc. that has suffered from the consequences of smoking. This will help him realize that the consequences of smoking are real and can happen to anyone.

What If Your Child Has Already Started Smoking…

If you find out that your child has already tried smoking, don't panic. Avoid handing out threats and ultimatums and instead have a serious talk. Find out the reason why your child tried smoking and then discuss ways to prevent it from happening in the future. Remember, the best way to prevent smoking is to stop it before it starts, but not all hope is lost once the habit is picked up.