Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Talking to Your Kids About Smoking

Being the mother of two tween-age children can be a huge eye-opener. At the tender age of 10 and 12, it becomes quite clear they are more sophisticated than we were at that age. Some of the stories that I hear about the middle school kids' behavior are unreal. The language, the disrespect and smoking and alcohol consumption. While all of this is hard to fathom, one of the question facing parents is: “How to you talk to your kids about smoking?”

While it is recommended that parents discuss smoking with their kids at age five or six, it is nonetheless hard to broach the subject. Certainly, if you are a parent who smokes, it will be harder to convince a child that it is unwise and dangerous for them to do so. After all, to them it may seem harmless. Moreover, children tend to mimic parents at an early age. So what do you say to these children? How do you convince them the very thing you want them to avoid is a habit they constantly witness on a daily basis? It is quite a conundrum.

If you do smoke, the first thing you need to do is quit. I know this can be one of the hardest things in your life to do. We're experiencing it first-hand. My husband has been a smoker for a very long time. He wants to quit and has tried several different methods to quit and has been unsuccessful to date. Just these past couple of weeks he is trying the prescription Chantix. He has been very successful so far...wish us continued luck!

If you don't smoke, you can sit your children down and explain to them the dangers. It goes far beyond just telling them, doesn’t it? As they mature, they will be immersed in a culture where peer pressure and acceptance become the catalyst which may override your efforts to keep them safe and out of harm’s way.

So what do you say?

  • Smoking can kill
  • It is habit forming
  • It doesn’t matter what their friends do or say to provoke them, they should say no and walk away
  • Smoking is not a hip thing to do

Will they understand what you are trying to convey? Perhaps the answer is in repeatedly pointing out the dangers of smoking; that it is not a popular thing to do; point out people who smoke and make reference to how they look and smell.

While you cannot shield your child from all potential bad habits they will come across in their young lives, you can offer positive reinforcement on a daily basis by not engaging in any activity they may mimic, and being consistent in your efforts to dissuade them by any means you can. Books, videos and other tools can be used to teach children the hazards of smoking and other harmful toxins. Teach them to say no to their friends or peers. Tell them by saying no they are exhibiting strength of character, and how proud you are they have acted so grown up.

So far, so good with my tweens. In fact, they are a huge proponent in encouraging my husband to quit! We're going to keep educating and keep encouraging them to say no to the peer pressure that will keep bombarding them for the years to come!

1 comment:

Robyn said...

Good luck to your hubby! I'm so proud of him!