Talking to your kids about not smoking

Parents you will be the single most important influence on your child’s decision to not want to smoke, yet you do not fully understand the extent of your influence.

Talking to your child about not smoking is not just a one-time conversation it should be a continuous conversation that you have with your child while your child grows up. Your child may rebel, agree and sometimes argue with you. They even may seem to be tuning out, but they are listening so don’t give up, keep at it. It is never too early to talk to your child about n smoking.

If you think your child is to young to try smoking think again. 20 percent of all high school students have tried smoking before the age of 13. One third of all kids who try smoking keep smoking and go on smoking as adults. 80 percent of all adults started before the age of 18. Please look at these percentages. Do you think that these numbers are too high? 11 percent of smokers are 8th graders, 18 percent are 10th graders and 21percent are 12 graders. Please talk to your children. There health is at risk. And keep on talking to them.

My sister started to smoke when she was 13 years old, and now her own teenage daughter smokes, I definitely think attitudes toward smoking come from parents and peer pressure, my niece started to hang out with teenage girls who smoked and her very anti smoking opinion soon changed to be one of the girls. I am 33 years old and have never smoked; I come from a family of smokers. Stacey-

Is your child a smoking Risk? Every child is in danger of smoking cigarettes.

Does your child have friends who smoke? If your child has three or more friends who smoke they are more likely to smoke then those who don’t smoke.

As parents do you smoke? It is a great chance your child will smoke if the parents smoke.

Do you have siblings that smoke? It triples your child’s chances that they will smoke.

Does your child have a hard time in school? Smoking has been proven to be linked to repeated poor academic studies.

Do you leave your child unsupervised after school? Students have a lower risk of smoking if they are involved extra-circular activities such as sports, clubs and events.

Does your child seem depressed? Depression has been shown by studies to be associated with smoking.

Do you have adolescent children? The time when children who have tried smoking are ages 11-15.That is in the six through tenth grade. So it is never to early to start talking to them and keep talking to them about NOT smoking!

When talking to your children about not smoking relax and remain calm. Don’t lecture and don’t do all the talking. Keep it light with out judging. Ask questions and truly listen to your child’s answers. You know which messages about not smoking make the biggest impression on your child because you know your child better than anyone. Talk to your child in your own words, with simple language, and simple rules. Focus on the short-term consequences. Most teenagers don’t worry about long-term risks. Catch their attention on the immediate consequences of smoking like bad breathe, smelly clothes, yellow teeth or bad performance in sports.

Preteens and teens need a reality check from time to time. They tend to overestimate the risky behavior of smoking, the use of drugs and drinking of children in their age bracket or older. Remind them there is also a larger majority of high school students who don’t smoke.

Talk about peer pressure with your child and acknowledge what your child may be facing. Also suggest the positive ways of dealing with per pressure like, classmates who they admire who don’t smoke and famous athletes, or things they can do with the money they would save buy not spending there wages on buying cigarettes. And last but not least tell your child the consequences for smoking in your family and follow through if they break the rules.

If your child already smokes talking to them is not much different then talking to a child who doesn’t smoke. It’s all in the approach. Remember to keep it light, no lectures and keep it a two-way conversation. Stay calm and Focused and take a deep breath and now ask, why they smoke and for how long? Ask them if they have ever tried to quit. Treat their smoking habit as a medical rather then a disciplinary problem. Next, talk to them about quitting and various methods of quitting. Tell your child that quitting smoking can be very difficult, but the intense symptoms disappear after a few weeks. Continue to support your child’s efforts to quit smoking.

Always expect rebellion in adolescence. That’s what growing up and being a child is all about. Not letting your child rebel in ways through clothing, hairstyles, or music may lead your child to feel the need to rebel through smoking, drugs, sex and drinking. Remember it’s never too early to talk to your child about not smoking.

Julie WAU Colorado

Resources: CDC’s tips for youth program

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