While the rate of smoking has declined greatly over the last several decades, there are still 42 million Americans who still smoke. This problem becomes a major concern when you find your young son or daughter smoke. It may be even more striking if it’s your daughter. Let’s talk about how to address such a situation.
Three million high school students smoke and another 600,000 middle school students smoke cigarettes. It is a serious public health concern, as a nonsmoking parent, if you find your child smoking, here’s what you should do:
Keep your cool
That’s the first thing to remember. Getting angry at them is almost always counterproductive, and may make them more rebellious. Think about how you want to approach them and what you say to be able to get across to them.
Also, discuss the situation with your partner.
Choose carefully. You may lose their connection if you get too aggressive or too preachy. While you do have to approach them from a position of authority, you still need to connect with them. Show them that you care. And show them that you know – as to why smoking is bad for them.
Ask them to talk to you about their smoking – for how long have they been doing it? why did they start? why are they doing it? who are their influences? Allow them to ask you questions about it – why it’s bad? why can’t they do it occasionally? what can it lead to? how to resist pressures?
Ask for commitment
If the conversation goes and you are convincing, they are likely to come around. Ask them if they are prepared to make a commitment to stop smoking. You have to rules and expectations and declare your family smoke-free. This starts with you – so if you or your spouse smoke, quit! Tell them that you will be checking up on them – not just to check but also for support if they need it. Don’t make them feel they are alone in this if it becomes a struggle.
Send them materials that press on them how bad smoking is. The National Cancer Institute offers a free program designed to help teens stop smoking. Have them sign up for SmokefreeTXT. They will receive texts every day for several weeks that will give him pointers and reminders on this matter.
Finding out that your child is smoking can be very upsetting and also distressful. Don’t get carried away by fear. Keep your calm and share your support with your spouse. If you stay calm and composed, you have a good chance of steering your family out of this situation. Your child will take that positive vibe from you and may be more willing in quitting. Be persistent and be there for them. You do have to be strong but showing that you are on their side will increase your and their chance of success.