(MayoClinic.com) Teen smoking is a big deal. After all, teens who smoke are likely to turn into adults who smoke.
If you find your teen smoking, take it seriously. Stopping teen smoking in its tracks is the best way to promote a lifetime of good health.
As a parent, you're one of the most powerful influences in your teen's life — and your actions speak louder than your words. If you smoke, don't expect your teen to stop smoking. Your teen likely interprets your smoking as an endorsement for the behavior. Instead, ask your doctor about stop-smoking products and other resources to help you stop smoking.
In the meantime, don't smoke in the house, in the car or in front of your teen, and don't leave cigarettes where your teen might find them. Explain how unhappy you are with your smoking, and why it's so important to you to quit.Start talking
You could simply tell your teen to stop smoking. It's an important message. But commands, threats and ultimatums aren't likely to work. Instead of getting angry, be curious and supportive. Ask your teen what made him or her start smoking. Perhaps your teen is trying to fit in at school, or maybe your teen thinks that smoking will help relieve stress. Sometimes teen smoking is an attempt to feel cool or more grown-up.
Once you understand why your teen is smoking, you'll be better equipped to address smoking as a potential problem — as well as help your teen eventually stop smoking.Encourage your teen to share his or her concerns
Although the consequences of smoking — such as cancer, heart attack and stroke — are real, they're probably beyond the realm of your teen's concern.
Rather than lecturing your teen on the long-term dangers of smoking, ask your teen what he or she considers the negative aspects of smoking. Once your teen has had his or her say, offer your own list of negatives. Consider appealing to your teen's vanity:
Of course, smoking is also expensive. Prompt your teen to calculate the weekly, monthly or yearly cost of smoking. You might compare the cost of smoking with electronic devices, clothes or other items your teen considers important.Help your teen make a plan
Teens can become addicted to nicotine surprisingly quickly — sometimes within just a few weeks of experimenting with smoking. While many teens who smoke think they can stop anytime, research shows this isn't usually true.
When you talk to your teen about stopping smoking, ask if any of his or her friends have tried to stop smoking. Consider why they were — or weren't — successful. Then ask your teen which stop-smoking strategies he or she thinks might be most helpful. Offer your own suggestions as well:
If your teen slips, remain supportive. Congratulate your teen on the progress he or she has made so far, and encourage your teen not to give up. Help your teen identify what went wrong and what to do differently next time.
Above all, celebrate your teen's success. You might offer a favorite meal for a smoke-free day, a new shirt for a smoke-free week or a party with nonsmoking friends for a smoke-free month. Rewards and positive reinforcement can help your teen maintain the motivation to stop smoking for good.
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