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Talking to your Kids About Tobacco Use Parents & Family Members Can Make A Difference! Can a parent’s attitude about tobacco influence a child’s likelihood to use?
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Talking to your Kids About Tobacco Use Parents & Family Members Can Make A Difference!
Can a parent’s attitude about tobacco influence a child’s likelihood to use? • YES! Research tells us the value that you as a parent place on a tobacco-free lifestyle – regardless of whether you use tobacco-can have a significant influenceon whether your child will use or even try tobacco.
If your child believes that you would be upset and disappointed if s/he smoked, your child is less likely to smoke (even if both parents smoke!). So…… • It is critical to be able to talk to your children often and from an early age about the health risks of smoking and how you value them not using tobacco. • Let’s take a look at some “conversation starters”……
Conversation Starters • Be on the lookout for good opportunities to initiate discussions about tobacco use. It may be while you are driving them to sports practice, at dinnertime, while watching television or at bedtime. Be sure to keep your words and ideas at an age level they can understand.
Ages 6-8 – It’s never tooearly to start the conversation! • “What have they taught you in school about the dangers of smoking?” • If you see someone put out a cigarette or see cigarette buts on the ground, comment on how you feel about that and ask your kids what they think.
Ages 9-11 – Continue talking often about the subject • “Why do you think some teenagers smoke even though it is so dangerous?” • When you see other kids smoking, make it clear that you don’t approve of young people having cigarettes. • “Why do you think we have laws that do not allow smoking in public places?”
Ages 12-15 • “What do you think when you see kids smoking?” • “What are some good reasons you might give your own child for not smoking?” • When you’re watching a movie or tv show together where a character smokes, wait until after the show and ask, “What did you think about that character who always had a cigarette dangling from their mouth?”
Regardless of their age…. • Say “I don’t want you to smoke”. • Be direct. • Let them know your reasons. • Talk about real facts - just saying “smoking is bad for you” is not enough. • Learn about the dangers of tobacco use – there are plenty of free resources to help you get the facts.
How do you make the risks of smoking more real and immediate? • If you have a friend or relative who is suffering the health effects of smoking, ask them to talk to your child about why smoking was not worth it. • When you watch TV or a movie together, and see smoking portrayed as harmless or even glamorous, point out how the opposite is true.
Focus on the social issues: • Young people have difficulty caring about what could happen to their health in 20 years – but they do care more about the smell in their hair, clothes and breath. • Help them understand the financial costs of supporting a cigarette habit. • Remind them that MOST young people DO NOT use tobacco!!
What else can I do? • Expose your child to anti-smoking advertising campaigns – when you find an ad that makes smoking look disgusting, point it out to your child. • Help your child find anti-smoking websites and look at them together. • Start a conversation by asking what s/he has learned about the health risks associated with smoking. • Practice with them saying no to tobacco.
Sometimes parents get asked some pretty tough questions. Let’s look at a few of those and how you might answer.
Q1 - “If smoking is so bad for you, why do you smoke?” • A1- “The sneaky thing about smoking is this: When you start, you think you can quit at anytime. But I can tell you that it’s very hard to stop. So don’t get started. I wish I never would have.” • A2- If you want to quit and can commit to following-thru with a sincere effort, you may want to say, “You’re right. I’ll make a deal with you. I’ll promise to quit, if you promise to never start.” Remember-one of the most important things you can do is tell your child you do not want him/her to smoke. Second, don’t smoke around your child.
Q2 -“Why are you making such a big deal about this? It’s not like doing drugs.” • “Tobacco can be just as dangerous as anything out there. I’m making a big deal out of this because I love you and I don’t want you to be one of the 4 million teens who will eventually die from a tobacco related illness.”
Where to go for more help: • keepkidsfromsmoking.com • tobaccofreekids.com • smokefreefamilies.org • smokefreemovies.ucsf.edu • cdc.gov/tobacco • nih.gov