Research has shown that children today are picking up smoking at a very young age. Parents have reason to worry and they need to look for ways to steer their children away from the harmful habit. There is a lot of exposure in the media and children begin to see smoking as a harmless activity. Fortunately, parents can play a major factor in instilling positive messages in their children and they have more power than they realize.
There are several ways to help your child to live a tobacco free life.
1. TV and smoking
Research has shown that kids who watch more TV tend to start smoking earlier than those who do not watch as much TV. You should be very careful about the programs your children watch. When they watch people smoking in the movies, they tend to want to emulate them. Make sure that you talk to the kids about the smoking scenes so that they can understand it is a negative vice, even though the smoker might be the star of the movie or their favorite character.
According to studies, half of those who started smoking as kids did so because of what they had seen in movies. This number is larger than those who are influenced by their peers.
It is very important for parents to talk to their children about smoking and the dangers associated with the habit. Studies have shown that teens who have discussed smoking with their parents are less likely to smoke. Having open discussions was found to be effective even where the parents themselves were smokers.
Parents should start talking to their kids when they are still young and not wait until they start experimenting. The moment they know about smoking they should understand that it is a bad habit worth avoiding.
3. Smoking adverts
You should try to keep your children away from adverts on smoking. These ads glamorize smoking and can encourage the kids to start smoking. If they are exposed to the ads, make sure that you counter the messages with information about the health consequences of smoking, and tell them that the ads are aimed at luring them to start smoking in the future.
4. Smoking facts
Kids tend to think that they are immortal and it is important to share the brutal facts about smoking. Teens need to know how smoking reduces their lifespan through the death statistics. While you might feel like this is scaring them, sometimes it is the best way to open their eyes. You should also bring up the facts about the harm smoking does to their appearance. Young people are sensitive about their appearance and when they learn about the poor oral heath, foul smell and bad skin, they might think twice about picking up a cigarette.
5. Debunk the myths
Kids tend to buy into myths like ‘smoking being cool’ or how ‘smoking can help with weight management’. Make sure that you counter this information with facts about cancer, heart and lung diseases and other long-term health problems.
Do not let them see any ‘good’ side to smoking. If their role models are smokers, talk to them about choosing different models and do not let them buy posters or other pictures where celebrities are smoking. You need to know that kids are greatly influenced by celebrity behavior and they consider them cool. Do not overlook what they try to pick up from them.
6. Discuss their friends
If your child is hanging out with kids who smoke, it is only a matter of time before they pick up the habit. Peer pressure is very real and kids always want to fit in. They will do whatever it takes to be accepted by their peers. If you suspect that your child is making wrong choices when it comes to picking friends, make sure that you talk to him or her about it. Many parents ignore the issue of their kids’ friends’ habits until it is too late. You should not be more concerned about offending your child than protecting his or her life.
Remember that as a parent, you can have the greatest influence in your kids’ lives. If you are a smoker, the best thing you can do for yourself and your kids is to quit. Whatever you do, do not smoke in front of your children. Children whose parents smoke are more likely to start smoking at an early age too.
Chad believes that smokers looking to kick the cigarette butt should start before they turn 30. If you are not convinced, use this vapor cigarette smoking calculator here to see why you should stop tobacco smoking now.