How did they ever get started?
You have discovered that your teenage son or daughter may be smoking. Maybe you found cigarettes in their possession or a neighbor saw them blowing smoke rings on the corner with friends.
Or maybe you have become aware that several of your teenager’s friends are smoking and you have decided that it is time to have a heart-to-heart talk with your teen.
How are we going to handle this as parents?
Fearful for the health of your child, you gather data on teenage smoking facts to help him or her to stop.
Your child is conflicted and confused and intends to hide his/her habit.
It is very important that you address the issue at the very onset, because smoking can become a habit quite soon.
Teens are especially sensitive to nicotine’s addictive effects because their brains are still developing. This makes it easier for them to get hooked.
The Mayo Clinic offers an excellent teen support program designed to assist the parent in this area. Additionally, the Surgeon General puts out an excellent format for the parent to follow when discussing this topic with your Teen.
During the teenage years, your child is discovering their independence and exploring their identity.
They are trying to assert and demonstrate their perceived image of adulthood. Teens crave approval from their peers.
Smoking is treated somewhat as a “Rite of Passage”. Fear of rejection is strong and your teen may smoke “to fit in”.
Teen smoking addiction puts your child at risk of becoming a lifelong smoker. Since a very young age, they may have purchased candy cigarettes or been exposed to advertising aimed at kids…. ( Remember Joe Camel? ).
Or they may have had access to buying loose cigarettes known as “loosies” which may be more affordable for a teen. The purpose of all of this advertising is to normalize smoking in the malleable mind of your teenager.
“Looking like an Adult”
Parents know that their Kids hear, but probably aren’t listening. The more alert parents are aware that the kids are watching, mimicking, and learning from your example.
They have been conditioned to think that they will most likely to be perceived as “Grown Up” if they adopt this “Grownup habit”.
Being a Good Example
The first thing that you need to know is that there is little chance of your child quitting smoking if either you or your spouse smokes.
Your actions will be heard much louder than any words.
Decide how you will handle your own smoking around them.
Be sure to honestly ask yourself whether or not you can be supportive while continuing to smoke.
In the effort to support someone quitting smoking, we cannot ignore our own smoking behavior. We cannot control the behavior of smokers that our teen may come into contact, but we can and must control our own behavior.
I have created several links in this article to sites of professionals who specialize in teen psychology. Our own method is Abstinence Psychotherapy , a drug-free approach.
Make use of all of the resources here, both on and off this site and we will look forward to hearing your success stories here.
As always, comments and questions are encouraged.