Google+ Authentic Parenting: How to Deal with Teen Smoking

Monday, April 16, 2012

How to Deal with Teen Smoking

written by Pasha Lubeck

A lot of people start smoking in their teens. There are a number of causes; peer pressure, stress, and the desire to be “cool” are among the most common. It certainly doesn’t help that a number of tobacco companies seem to target young smokers in their marketing campaigns, making cigarettes highly desirable for plenty of reasons. There's also the fact that sound substance abuse education ideas sometimes fail to reach these kids. Teens can sometimes get into the habit simply because they’re surrounded by it.

What should parents do to prevent or deal with their teen’s smoking habit? Here are a few helpful tips to keep teenagers away from the temptations of tobacco:

• It might seem disconnected, but parents need to assure their teens of their love and support. There may be setbacks, bumps, or hurdles along the way, but this must remain constant. Without the support and structure that parents provide, adolescents are more likely to give in to smoking and other risky behaviors.

• Learn the reasons why teens smoke or start smoking, so you can address the root and discourage the habit. Is it peer pressure? Most teens or children start smoking because it was offered to them by a friend. Teens have to realize that they shouldn’t feel pressured to do something. Immaturity and insecurity are often the foundation of giving in to peer pressure—it’s connected to the motivation to smoke because it looks good, cool, or grown-up. Tell your teens it’s cooler to simply be yourself.

• Avoid judging your teen if you discover that they have a hidden smoking habit or continue to fall again into the habit. This will only justify the behavior in her eyes. It will be a cause for rebellion or isolation. Address it in a calm manner instead: for instance, ask her about the cigarettes you found. If she lies or is rude, remain calm and work toward finding the root of the problem. Losing your temper will only cause your teen to retreat into rebellious behavior.

• Help your teen realize she doesn’t need it to feel better or to function normally. Any form of addiction is simply your body thinking it’s dependent on a substance like nicotine to survive, which is what makes it hard to quit. If your teen can stay away from cigarettes for a prolonged period of time, she’ll learn that she can get along just fine without smoking.

• A teen who smokes should realize that smoking is just plain dangerous because of what it does to the body. Media is just as much to blame for giving an attractive image to smoking. Use media this time to do the opposite. With a language of openness and acceptance, your teen wouldn’t mind watching a documentary with you about the harmful effects of smoking. The trick is to find something that isn’t too preachy. There are many well-made and entertaining documentaries and even fictional movies like The Insider that address smoking as a health hazard.

Even better, have a chat with your teen about the effects of smoking on the human body. Not only will it create that important personal connection with your child, but it also establishes you as a reliable contact person for life matters. Use this as an opportunity to build trust between you and your teen.

About the Author:
Pasha Lubeck is a single mom to two beautiful boys and a part-time designer for Kichler Lighting. She was peer-pressured into smoking as a teenager but eventually decided she didn’t like how it smelled or tasted.


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1 comment:

  1. Legacy is the largest nonprofit in the US dedicated to the issue of tobacco use -- keeping young people from smoking and helping all smokers quit.
    Check out our fact sheet on effective ways parents can engage with teens on the issue of teen smoking:
    http://www.legacyforhealth.org/PDFPublications/10THINGS_0710_temp.pdf

    Patricia McLaughlin
    Legacy Foundation
    www.legacyforhealth.org

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