When you have a child, there are a lot of situations that you one day dread. As our kids grow up and become teenagers, they’re faced with all sorts of pressures and have to make adult decisions, often before they lack the experience to know what’s right or understand the consequences. Sex, drinking, drugs – all will confront your child at one time or another.
Catching your child smoking cigarettes is one possibility you never want to encounter. But if you do, you should be prepared on how to respond appropriately. There’s a fine line between reaching your child and alienating them, so consider these tips for effective damage control.
If you find your child smoking, your first reaction might be to start yelling at them. You’re shocked; you’re mad; you’re sad – it’s understandable. You must, however, resist all temptation to start yelling and making a scene, because as soon as you do, your child will stop listening and start resenting you. Stay calm. If you can keep your cool and react calmly, you have a much better chance of making a positive impact on your teen.
Have a Discussion
You’re also going to feel inclined to start lecturing your child about the extreme dangers of smoking, but you should hold back. First, try to discuss things with them, as in actually have a back-and-forth conversation. Ask them questions, such as where they got the cigarettes and why they wanted to try them. Listen carefully to their answers. This is a time for you to connect with your child and understand them better.
Offer the Facts
After having an honest discussion with your child, you should offer them the facts and information they need in order to make a smart decision about smoking. You might want to wait until a later time, and print out some fact sheets or offer pamphlets on the consequences of smoking – everything from bad breath and yellow teeth to cancer.
You were a teen once, too, and you should try to remember how it feels to be in your child’s shoes, experiencing peer pressure and being curious about adult activities. If you have one, share your experience as a teen with smoking cigarettes. What did you do? This will help your child connect with you and realize that you do understand what they’re going through. It’s important for teens to know that their parents were once teens, too.
After you’ve talked with your child about smoking, you need to give them clear rules to follow, such as no smoking in the house. Don’t let them smoke at home because you’d rather they do it at home than somewhere else, because it will be sending mixed messages about your acceptance of smoking. Let your teen know exactly what the consequences of breaking the rules are, and be sure to strictly enforce them if you do catch your teen smoking again.