(Written by Katie Holeman) Most smokers will tell you that they regret the day they started smoking. It is a habit that is not only harmful to the smoker but those around them as well. Many smokers started at a young age, either by peer pressure, influence or for other personal reasons. With smoking and second hand smoke being linked to so many different health conditions, you want to assure your teen doesn’t pick up the habit and put their future in jeopardy. As parents, this may not be an easy task, however there are ways you can help keep your kids smoke free.
- Explain and Discuss Peer Pressure:
The main influence that causes teens to pick up the habit is peer pressure. Many will tell you that they started because everyone else was doing it or their friends started to pressure them to try it. By sitting down with your child and explaining peer pressure and how to avoid giving in, you can help your child to say no. This is a lesson that will help with more than just smoking as they grow into young adults.
- Understand the Reasons They May Start:
Teens may start smoking for a variety of reasons. Whether they their favorite movie star smoking, saw their friends doing it, or simply to rebel and prove their independence, when a teen starts to smoke, it isn’t as simple as them just wanting to. If you can understand the reasons they may start smoking, you can discuss those reasons and discover an alternative.
- Practice What You Preach:
If you want to help your teen stay smoke free, you also need to be smoke free. Many parents who smoke have teens who smoke. This is due to influence and easy access to cigarettes. If you are currently a smoker and your child is reaching the age where they may try it, quit smoking. This will help your child make the right decision and keep you from being a hypocrite when you try to stop your teen from smoking.
- Forbid it:
Some parents have a problem telling their teens no. Either they don’t want to be the bad guy or they want their teens to make their own decisions. This unfortunately leads to too much independence and the ability to make a mistake that will stay with them. Smoking is one of the choices that you shouldn’t let your teen choose. Parents who forbid smoking have less teen smokers than the parents that don’t set the restriction.
Teen smoking is a problem that can be solved before it starts. Take the time to talk with your teen about smoking and making the right choice. The average age teens start smoking is 13, don’t wait until it is too late. Make sure they are aware of the risks, the costs, and your view on smoking to keep them smoke free.
Photo Courtesy of Dr. Jaus