Whilst most parents do whatever they can to warn their children about the dangers of smoking, there’s no denying the statistics – almost one in every four high school seniors today are smokers, despite all the efforts by parents, the government, and healthcare services to warn them of the consequences of taking up this habit.
If your teen has started smoking, then chances are, you’ve already become aware of it. Perhaps you’ve smelled smoke on them when they’ve returned home, or maybe you’ve even caught them red-handed with a cigarette in their mouth. While, of course, the most ideal situation would have been for your child to never start smoking in the first place, it’s important to understand that the best step forward for both of you now is to work on quitting, together.
But, where do you start? It’s likely that emotions are running high, and perhaps you’ve even had heated words with your teen over their choice of new habit. For many parents, trying to get their teenager to quit cigarettes as quickly as possible can seem like an impossible task. We’ve listed some top tips to help you convince and support them as much as they need to give up cigarettes for good.
Tip #1. Stay Calm:
When you find out that your teenager has begun smoking, it’s likely that you’re going to feel quite angry, upset, disappointed, and let down. This is especially true if you have taken a lot of time to educate them on the dangers of smoking, or perhaps they have even seen a family member or friend get unwell or even lose their life to a smoking-related disease. However, whilst you might want to start giving your teen an angry lecture or pronounce them grounded for the rest of the year, it’s important to understand that this approach may not often work.
Nicotine is a highly addictive substance, and your teen may not even enjoy smoking; many smokers wish that they’d never started, but find it very difficult to give up and crack their reliance on this drug. Remember that you will want your teen to take you seriously; this can be very difficult to achieve by yelling! Instead, calmly approach your teen and communicate clearly to them why you don’t want them to smoke. This will encourage them to speak to you about it, rather than pushing them away.
Tip #2. Provide Support for Quitting:
Whilst it would be great if you could simply tell your teen not to smoke and that’s the end of it, unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out like this. Even if your teen is regretting their decision to pick up a cigarette, it’s important to understand that nicotine is a very powerful, addictive drug that can have a profound effect on a young brain. Even if your teen is not yet a daily smoker, don’t assume that they will be able to easily give up the habit.
Since the brain of a teenager is still developing when compared to that of an adult, both frequent and occasional teen smokers are susceptible to suffering withdrawal symptoms and other issues when trying to crack the habit. One of the best ways to help your teen through this is to provide support and advice for them; encourage them to speak to you about their smoking triggers, for example, and ask them to tell you when they get a cigarette craving, so that you can do something with them to help take their mind off it.
Tip #3. Consider Alternatives:
When it comes to quitting smoking, it’s a well-known fact that going cold turkey and simply giving up cigarettes completely is a very difficult thing to do. Most adults find this immensely difficult, so it would be unrealistic to expect your teenager to simply put their cigarettes down and never think about them again.
If you are worried that your teen is going to struggle to quit without having an alternative to substitute for cigarettes, then you might want to consider looking into the various methods of nicotine replacement therapy that are available. This will help your teen avoid nasty nicotine withdrawal symptoms as they quit and make the whole process a lot easier for all involved.
One of the most popular methods of quitting smoking today is vaping; using an e-cigarette or ‘vape’, your teen can still get some nicotine from the ejuice, but without the added nasty chemicals found in tobacco, such as carbon monoxide, tar, and various other carcinogens. Vaping is so effective because e-liquids come in various flavors and nicotine strengths, so you are able to reduce the nicotine strength and quit smoking gradually.
Tip #4. Quit Together:
If you are a smoker yourself, then it’s highly likely that your teen is smoking because they’re simply copying your behavior. Psychology proves that children who grow up around parents with bad habits are more likely to take that habit up themselves as a teen or young adult. And, it makes sense – if your child has always known that you have smoked since they were a young age, then there’s a high chance that they will copy that behavior. In addition, it can be very difficult to convince your teenager to quit cigarettes if you keep lighting up yourself.
Quitting together can be very beneficial for both you and your teen since you can share the struggles and give each other support during this difficult time. If you have, like many smokers, tried and failed to quit numerous times in the past, then you can tell your teen about this to help them understand just how serious it is.
Tip #5. Educate About Health Risks:
One of the main reasons to quit smoking is because of the health risks; there are numerous conditions associated with cigarettes, including heart disease and an increased risk of heart attack, many types of cancer including lung and oral cancer, and an increased risk of stroke. In addition, there are many less serious, but also painful and uncomfortable conditions associated with smoking. For example, COPD and other respiratory problems, along with a plethora of negative effects on appearance, such as yellow-stained teeth, dry, brittle hair, and dry, flaky skin and nails.
When they first began smoking, your teen may not have been aware of or even fully understood, the implications of these health risks. Providing an education on these risks to your teen’s health may be just what they need to finally realize the damage that they could do to themselves by continuing to smoke.
Tip #6. Address the Underlying Cause:
Most people don’t take up smoking for no reason; usually, there’s something that triggers them to try their first cigarette. And, it’s likely that your teen is no different. Rather than focusing solely on encouraging them to quit, it’s a good idea to also try and understand their reasons for starting in the first place, so that you can deal with them effectively and make it easier for them to give up.
For example, one of the main reasons that many smokers begin smoking is due to stress; nicotine can help you to feel more relaxed, however, once the addiction starts, the withdrawal symptoms start to cause even more stress and a craving for another cigarette, causing a vicious cycle to begin. If your child is under a lot of stress at school, for example, this could be the main reason that they’ve taken up smoking. Talk to your child to see if there is anything that you can do to help alleviate the problems that have led them to cigarettes.
Tip #7. Consider Therapy:
When it comes to breaking habits, especially those that are caused by an addiction, you may need to draft in professional help. If your child is finding it difficult to quit smoking even with the aid of nicotine replacement therapies and your support, then you might want to consider discussing seeing a therapist with them.
Talking therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) are designed to help us tackle unhealthy behaviors such as smoking, and your child will be able to learn how they best respond to various stimuli so that they can use this to their advantage in order to be able to successfully quit. In addition, if your teen has started smoking due to underlying issues with stress or anxiety, it will be difficult for them to quit until these problems have been effectively dealt with.
Seeing a therapist isn’t just good for changing behaviors and thoughts towards smoking; it can also help your teen to deal with the issues that led them to smoke in the first place.
Tip #8. Be Patient:
Last but not least, it’s important to be patient with your teen and understand that quitting smoking isn’t always going to be easy for them. Even if they have agreed to quit, you may find that after a while, they go back to their old habits. This isn’t unusual for anybody quitting smoking since nicotine takes a strong hold over smokers and can be very difficult to live without. Make sure that your child knows that they can come and talk to you for advice and support if they feel like smoking again.