If your teenager starts smoking (or, more likely, vaping), depends on many factors, of which few can be controlled, let alone by you. However, there are certain measures you can take to help your child, particularly if you’ve managed to understand that you’re not dealing with a toddler anymore. So give him/her some credit, don’t underestimate them and treat them as an (almost) adult. Also…
Lead by example
If you smoke (or vape) yourself, you’ve lost all credibility. Arguments such as “but I’m an adult” or “I didn’t smoke at your age” simply do not hold. Besides, your child is far more familiarized with the smell of cigarettes (if you’re smoking) so that the chances that he/she’ll be repulsed by it and help your cause are slim.
Appeal to their vanity
Even if you find it far more serious that smoking can cause cancer, you’ll get to a teenager easier with arguments such as:
- Smoking gives you bad breath.
- Smoking can yellow your teeth and nails.
- Smoking can cause wrinkles.
- Smoking can make your clothes and hair smell bad.
Try to draw their attention to these little changes whenever you get the chance (but without overdoing it) and you might get to them. Sure, if your child is vaping, not smoking, some of the above arguments will not hold, so you’ll have to be more creative.
Find other ways to boost their coolness
Most adolescents start smoking or vaping because everyone around them and they wouldn’t fit in otherwise or they wouldn’t be as cool. Talk to them and help them find a different way to blend in. Maybe they could learn playing the guitar, maybe they need some new clothes or a new haircut. All these can boost their cool factor and their confidence along with it. And maybe this way they won’t need to smoke or vape just to grow in their friend’s eyes.
Don’t pressure them
Don’t yell, don’t be aggressive, don’t check their backpack and don’t smell them the moment they come through the door. This will only make things worse. Be discreet and patient. Help them understand that even if they’ve made a mistake, they can move on and overcome it.