I feel like I’m in a golden age of parenting. My kids are in their tween years (defined as being between the ages of 8 to 12 years). The exhausting days of early parenting are far behind me. My kids are doing more things on their own and often surprise me by what they can do. Yet they still need me and I have lots of input into their decisions. Sure, their brains are still developing which makes for regular emotional outbursts leaving me to wonder at times, who are these children? But for the most part, I love it!
So when I hear about the rise of vaping in teenagers, I am tempted to think, “I’m glad I don’t have to worry about that yet!” I’d rather ignore the fact that my kids are getting older and hope for the best. Then I hear about youth starting to vape as young as Grade 6. GRADE 6?!?!? I hear stories of kids vaping in elementary school washrooms, on school buses, and vape juice flavours that are tempting for youth…and…okay…I’m paying attention.
Talking about vaping with my kids is the same as talking about other topics like sexual activity, body image, alcohol and other substances. It’s not a one-time big conversation. Instead, it is having smaller talks with them more often and starting when they are young. It’s about creating a space where kids feel comfortable talking about any topic. Okay, well that’s easier said than done. The good news is that as parents, we can be the greatest influence on our kids as they enter into their teenage years and beyond.
So how do we talk about vaping with our tweens?
- Be prepared with the facts. Youth respond to facts over lectures. Focus more on health and safety.
- Bring up the subject when you see it, for example, bus shelter ads, news headlines, or when you see someone vaping in the community.
- Talk with your tween about what you expect and what your family values are on vaping.
- Problem-solve with your tween how to say no if they are offered substances. Practice with them and let them know you will come and get them if they ever need help.
- Be prepared to listen and let your tween express their thoughts and feelings. Don’t judge or lecture. Use open-ended questions, for example, ‘what do you think,’ ‘how do you feel about that,’ over blurting out your opinion.
These small conversations over time stay with our kids and can help them make better choices. Keeping our kids from getting older isn’t an option (the last time I checked). So instead, let’s take a deep breath and know that we still have an important role in supporting our children with whatever challenges they face.
What helps you to have open conversations with your kids? Let us know! We would love to hear from you. Connect with us:
- Leave us a comment below
- Tweet us @haltonparents
- Follow us on Facebook
- Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
For parenting information or to speak with a Public Health Nurse (every Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) simply call 311 or 905-825-6000