“Mom have you ever smoked”? This was my son’s question to me. I was glad he asked. I’ve always encouraged “ask me anything”. I’d rather my kids get the information from me. It allows me to add my values to the discussion. You just never know what they are hearing in the school yard. And so our conversation started…
It’s never too early or late to start a conversation about smoking or tobacco products, like chewing tobacco. As their parent, you are the most influential person in their lives – yes even when they are tweens or teens!
Here are some tips to help you start the conversation with your kids:
- Think about what you want to say.
- Make time to talk. It can be at the dinner table, after a TV show or movie, riding in the car or just before bedtime.
Talk. Talk. Talk. This won’t be your only chance, so don’t feel you have to cover everything all at once.
- Focus on your child’s positive behaviours and actions. Self-confidence is key to help protect them against peer pressure.
- Keep talking about the dangers of tobacco use. Even the youngest child can understand that smoking is bad for them. Check out Tips for keeping your kids smoke-free: ages 6-11 and Tips for keeping youth smoke free: ages 12-19 .
- Be a positive role model. Don’t smoke or use tobacco.
- If you do, you can still make a difference. Your best move is to try to quit.
- If you’ve tried to quit, make sure they know how difficult it is.
- Be direct and explain why you don’t want your child to start smoking.
Create a Tobacco-Free Environment
- Don’t allow smoking inside your home or vehicle.
- Children often get cigarettes from their parents – don’t leave them where they can easily get them.
Let your child know where you stand– tell them you expect them not to smoke or use tobacco- and if they’re already using it- to quit.
- Support tobacco free movies because did you know that in 2011, 85% of movies released in Ontario containing images of tobacco were rated for children & teens (G,PG,14A)?
- Check out the Ontario Lung Association’s information about the influence scenes of smoking can have on children.
Every conversation you have about smoking and tobacco use helps your child stay healthy and tobacco-free. It also keeps the lines of communication open, allowing your child to talk about other issues in their lives.
Why not start the conversation tonight?
Share your experience:
It’s not always easy having these conversations. What has worked – or not worked – with your kids?
If you want to connect with us more directly for more information about smoking, tobacco or other parenting stuff, get in touch with us:
- Leave us a comment below
- Tweet us: @haltonparents
- Email us: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Dial 311 (within Halton) or 905-825-6000 to talk with one of the public health nurses. We’re around Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
*Halton Youth Survey, 2010
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