How to discourage your child from vaping
Vaping has become a widespread trend among children and teens, with an increasing number of youths reporting e-cigarette usage. If you’re the parent of an adolescent, it is important to take appropriate steps to stop the problem before it starts.
Discouraging your child from vaping isn’t the easiest of tasks, especially as your adolescent faces peer pressure and expensive marketing campaigns by e-cigarette manufacturers like JUUL. However, here are some recommended ways to be proactive when it comes to teen vaping.
The thought of your child using e-cigarettes can be frightening, and it can be tempting to approach them with statements like “I’d better not catch you vaping.” However, refraining from doing so is vital, as such statements can seem accusatory and make your adolescent far less inclined to be honest with you.
Instead, keep things casual and find a focus that isn’t your child. For instance, you might tell your child about a recent news report which said that vaping is becoming more popular among teens. Then, ask them if it’s happening in their school.
Alternatively, you might prefer to ask your child about their friends. “They are more likely to talk about them versus themselves,” Sarper Taskiran, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at the Child Mind Institute, told The Wall Street Journal. He went on to explain that teens are more willing to talk openly and honestly when their parents seem curious and nonjudgmental.
Ditch the scary talk
It’s no secret that vaping comes with risk factors, but scaring your child isn’t the best way to get them to refrain from using e-cigarettes.
“If you lead with, ‘you’re going to die,’ they tend not to believe you,” Jonathan Avery, director of addiction psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College, told the WSJ.
Instead, be truthful and specific. You can talk about worst-case scenarios, but also talk about the other risks posed by nicotine – such as its ability to hinder adolescent brain development and lead to long-term addiction.
This is also a great time to make clear that despite clever advertising and common misconceptions, e-cigarettes contain a substantial amount of nicotine and carry the same risks as traditional cigarettes. Let your child know that just because vaping devices made by JUUL and other companies look sleek and come in fun flavors, they are still harmful.
Prepare your child for peer pressure
Peer pressure is everywhere when you’re an adolescent, from wearing the right clothes to hanging out with the right people. Vaping is yet another situation where children and teens might feel pressured to take up the habit because they feel it’s the “cool” choice.
It’s important to make sure your child knows that popular choices aren’t always the right choices. Let them know that they could likely find themselves in a situation where they are offered an e-cigarette by a friend or classmate.
Discuss the best way to refuse such offers, and talk about why the refusal needs to happen. Make sure they are confident in that choice and encourage them to spend time with others who have also made a pledge to be nicotine free.
You can also let your child know that although an alarming number of children are vaping, the majority still remain nicotine-free. So although it might seem like “everyone is doing it,” they actually aren’t.
Lead by example
It’s difficult to tell your child to be nicotine-free if you use cigarettes or e-cigarettes. If you currently use nicotine products, make a conscious effort to stop and let your child know about the smart choice you’re making. Discuss why it’s important for you to quit, and share any regrets you have about picking up such an addictive habit.
If your child approaches you about your nicotine habit, the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids recommends responding with something like, “You’re right, smoking is unhealthy and I’ve tried to quit and wish I had never started. I don’t want you to start an unhealthy habit and struggle the way I have.”
You should also commit to having a nicotine-free home. Don’t allow friends or family members to smoke in your home or car, or around your child in any environment.
Just because you and your child have had one talk about vaping doesn’t mean the conversation is over. In fact, Avery recommends opening the dialogue when your child is just nine years old. Obviously, many things will change between then and high school.
As your adolescent’s circumstances change, it’s important for them to know that they can talk to you about any pressures they’re facing. If they come to you, remember to be nonjudgmental and listen to everything they have to say. Be there to support them, not lecture them.
If your child confesses to trying e-cigarettes, avoid the urge to punish. “Say ‘I’m glad you trust me enough to tell me this’ instead of being judgmental and critical,” Mary Alvord, a psychologist and author of “Conquer Negative Thinking for Teens,” told the WSJ. She added that punishment just encourages kids to “get sneakier.”
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