Parents need to start talking to their children about smoking as early as possible. Sometimes parents might think that their child is only 5 and can’t pick up a smoking habit. That’s why it’s crucial to start talking to your child about the damage that is caused by smoking.
Children view parents as the ultimate authority on what’s right and what’s wrong. Start discussing with your children early enough. Here are some tips to assist you to get started.
Focus on the things your child care about
Smoking causes lung problems, different types of cancer and other health issues. But telling a child that he could get cancer is he smokes won’t probably make him avoid smoking. Most kids don’t care about long-term consequences.
Children will respond when there is an imminent effect – staining of teeth, skin problems, bad breath, mouth pain and the smell that remain in the clothes and hair.
Children might also respond to a conversation on financial aspects. Use a calculator and your child the amount of money he will spend on smoking per day for years. Discuss what he could have done with the money instead.
Relate the conversation to sports
If a child is an athlete, explain to him how smoking will affect the performance when on the field. Let him know how smoking impairs the ability to run or tell him that he will only play for few minutes before being out of breath.
Talk about addiction
Companies that manufacture cigarettes market their product very well and the chances are that your child might not know about nicotine and about it being very addictive.
Let your child know that smoking is addictive and when someone starts smoking, it can be hard to stop. Tell him that nicotine is addictive like other dangerous drugs like cocaine and heroin.
Discuss the smoke-free alternatives and their dangers
There has been increasing use of vape pen, electronic cigarette, smokeless tobacco and hookah and that give your child more ways to pick up a smoking habit. Kids are likely to view the smoke-free alternatives as a safe and cooler way to smoke.
Between 2011 and 2015, smoking of e-cigs among high school students increased by 900%. E-cigs come in sweet flavors such as watermelon or bubble gum, and children might think that they are the same as candy.
Your kids should know that these alternatives are dangerous and they might have severe consequences. Aerosol emitted by e-cigarettes are not safe and is associated with the use of tobacco products among the youth. Therefore, make it clear that smoke-free alternatives lead to serious consequences too.
Teach your child to say no
Peer pressure has been joked about for years, but it is a real thing. Peer pressure always influences children. If her peers give the child the cigarette and you have never taught her how to say no to it, the chances are that she will accept the cigarette.
You can try role-playing if your child plays along with it. You can offer them cigarettes, and your child can try out different ways to say no. some of the best ways to say no include, “No, thank you, I don’t like its smell,” “I would rather not, it makes me feel uncomfortable” and “No, I should start being prepared for football practice and cigarettes make me run out of breath.”
Have a high-quality conversation
Avoid harping on the dangers caused by smoking. Studies have shown that talking about the dangers of smoking all the time could increase chances of your child smoking. When you tell a child that they can’t ever smoke or that all smokers are bad, he could find the courage to rebel. He could try it when he is a teenager because you told him that he could not smoke.
Having high-quality conversations with children can prevent them from picking up the habit. Try different discussions as no single conversation works for all kids. You know your child very well, and you know how to reach her.
Since it, a serious topic, avoid conversations that seems judgmental. It will be easy to talk to your child that way. She might even be open enough and tell you when he is offered one someday.
Emphasize the importance of good health choices
Talk about how your child can have a body in good shape by having enough sleep, eating a healthy diet and exercising often. If your values the ability to run fast or when he knows that having enough rest could help him listen more in school, he won’t engage in behaviors that would jeopardize his health.
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