“I wanted to try it!“, “My friends made me do!“, “I’ve gotten curious!” – these are the common children’s answers when a parent asks him: “Why did you start smoking?“. And now the problem of teen smoking is more acute than ever, since statistical data is unfortunately quite disappointing. Children begin to try smoking at the age of seven, and by 14-15 years of age they become tobacco-dependent. Let’s understand how you can protect your child from this harmful addiction.
Why do children start smoking?
One of two factors influences them.
– The family. So, a child can start smoking if his parents do. For the child his parents are role models, and to feel more mature, he can start smoking.
– People the child communicates with. The negative impact of your child’s friends is an often reason he begins to smoke. If the child’s friends are the children, who already became addicted to nicotine, sooner or later, the child will also want to try smoking a cigarette or they can force him to try.
What is the effect of smoking on a young body?
1. First of all, the nervous system suffers: nicotine drains the nerve cells resulting in fatigue, reduced physical endurance and activity, and these are followed by irritability and increased nervousness.
2. Nicotine affects adversely the respiratory system. As the child’s body is still growing and developing, the pulmonary system is changing as well. It has difficulty processing tobacco smoke that enters the body. And everything that a teenager “pulls in” when inhaling the smoke, settles in his lungs. And in a couple of months, the smoker will feel it:
– shortness of breath,
– dizziness with the slightest physical exertion,
– and change of the vocal timbre.
Moreover, the child, whose body is poisoned with nicotine, will feel much worse when catching an ordinary cold.
3. Also, the work of the organs of perception is reduced: sight, hearing and smell.
Tooth enamel is broken as well – every time when inhaling, a smoker inhales the air, temperature of which is much lower than that of the cigarette smoke. And this very difference triggers the destruction of tooth enamel.
4. Moreover, smoking ruins the kid’s look: acne, changes in skin and nail color, hair condition will also be noticeable.
5. Smoking gradually “kills” memory as well as the development of basic thinking processes. And the more often a teenager smokes a cigarette, the worse trick he plays on his intellect; the ability to think logically and to analyze is reduced.
As you can see, the effect of nicotine on a young body is quite harmful in general. Alas, but teenagers do not understand the seriousness of the problem of nicotine addiction and its destructive effect on their health.
What should parents do to prevent teen smoking?
1. The main thing is to be a role model
According to statistics, if one of the parents smokes, there’s a 97 percent chance of the child smoking as well. When a parent, who smokes, tells his child about the dangers of smoking, gives instructions and warnings – the child will ignore all these words and instructions, since the duality the kid sees undermines the parent’s credibility and the one of his words.
Therefore, the best impact will be your own example – parents should not smoke and, if they already smoke, do all their best to quit this habit.
2. Create a powerful negative attitude
Even if you don’t smoke, you can’t completely protect the child from tobacco smoke – someone smokes in the street, in a cafe or in a movie theater. Tobacco smoke is still addictive, and smoking arouses child’s curiosity inspired by movies and images of smoking characters, and the child wants to try the “forbidden fruit”.
It’s the time you should talk with the child about the dangers of smoking, to explain why this habit is so much terrible and harmful; perhaps even show special movies, which tell about the production of cigarettes and their harmful effects on the human body. But you shouldn’t do this too often otherwise the child will want to overcome disgust.
3. No scandals!
Have you learned that your child already smokes? Try to avoid scandals and don’t yell. Teens are guided by a sense of protest, so your any attempt to ban smoking will inspire even more interest in cigarettes.
If you learned that the child smokes, your main task is to raise his self-esteem. Talk calmly about who he smokes with, why they are interested in smoking. Try to convince the child that without cigarettes, he will not lose his credibility among the smoking peers, but will only gain respect.
It is always important to identify what kind of need this bad habit replaces. Then you can always find other ways to meet this need. Maybe that’s a desire to gain authority among meaningful people. In adolescence, meaningful people are the peers whatever you do, just consider this fact. Also, this can be a desire to be attractive. For example, if a young man wants to be attractive to girls, he can register for dance classes.
4. Only positive attitude
Only positive attitude will help you if your teen smokes.
It is pointless to frighten a girl with premature wrinkles – she is still too young for these. But if you say that she will look better once she quits smoking, acne ends and hair loss slows down – these can have a powerful effect.
You can give your son an idea that it’s rather unpleasant to kiss a smoker.
In any case, only these reasons work, which are relevant to a particular person at a particular moment. Try to find reasons that are relevant to your child.
5. Destroy myths
Teenagers easily create various myths and strongly believe them. The parents’ and teachers’ task is to talk about these myths and dispel them.
1. For example, there is still a myth that smoking helps to lose weight. As a result, adolescents believe that this simple method helps to get rid of excess weight without thinking about the consequences.
2. Another myth says that smoking helps to relax. This is not true, because the problem only “moves away while a cigarette is smoldering,” but you’ll still have to solve it.
3. “Smoking is not an addiction, I’ll easily quit if I want to” is the most dangerous myth since according to statistics, only 1 person out of every 100 can quit smoking of his own free will. Moreover, according to British psychologists, it’s enough for a 12-13 year old to smoke 2-3 cigarettes to become a tobacco-dependent. The younger the child, the faster he gets addicted – use this argument when talking about the dangers of smoking.
6. Forbidden fruit is sweet
There are three things adults are allowed but kids aren’t – to drink, to smoke and to make love. Often, a child begins to smoke in order to grow up faster both in his own eyes and in the eyes of others. He still isn’t allowed to do anything, but he really wants to. Perhaps, if smoking is not a forbidden fruit, it won’t become such a necessary step while the child is growing up.
7. Allow the child to make his own decisions
Parents make all the decisions for their children. Therefore, a decision to start smoking can be the first independent action in your child’s life.
Not to let this happen, you should give your child more freedom and to develop a sense of responsibility in him. Let him decide himself who he wants to be with, to choose friends, how to dress. And then, the child will not have to prove his independence with the help of cigarettes.
8. Be a friend to your child
When you’re your child’s friend but not an embodiment of severity and punishment, you can always learn more about your child. You will be the first to know which of his friends and peers has already started to smoke, and you can easily and peacefully discuss this with him and to find out whether he is interested in trying to smoke a cigarette as well. Moreover, mutual friendship and trust will help you control both the child’s first experiments with alcohol and a first love in your teen’s life.
My friend had a child of a teen age (now he’s an adult already). One day, he came home from school and said:
– Mom, I’ve done something awful.
– Have you missed school? – she asked.
– Nope, worse!
– Have you beaten someone?
– Did you kill someone???
– Worse! I tried to smoke!
– And how did you like it? – she asked.
So, while sitting in the kitchen, they peacefully discussed this event. Now, as an adult, he smokes, but at that moment her patience and calmness helped him not to start smoking at such a young age.
Of course, these tips aren’t a panacea for a bad habit. It’s not enough if you just read the article to help the child cope with this habit. First of all, you should understand it for yourself that if your child is addicted to something bad, that’s a sign that something is wrong with him, something has gone wrong in your relationship. In any case, only a sober analysis and a common sense as well as your parental loving heart will help you win together the fight against nicotine.