10 Ways to Talk to Your Kids About Smoking


Consider the Other Point of View

Understanding why your kids might be drawn to smoking will help you combat the attraction. They may want to look cool, act older, lose weight, seem tough or feel independent. Kids might start smoking because it seems exciting, they want to satisfy their curiosity or they're just bored. Find out what appeals to your kids about smoking and talk to them using language and experiences that are relevant to them.

If your kids want to be part of the group, encourage them to get involved in nonsmoker activities, such as sports or singing in a choir. Smoking directly affects a kid's athletic performance by hindering his or her ability to breathe well and reducing the amount of oxygen available for their muscles. Proper breathing is also an important requirement for singing. If your kids enjoy sports or choir, they probably won't enjoy smoking.

If appearance is their issue, tell them that the effects of smoking on their skin, teeth and hair will make them look worse, not better. Join them in an exercise program and teach them how to make nutritional food choices.

If they want to act older, give them some leeway to exert their independence. Increasing their responsibilities around the house or putting them in charge of resolving a family matter can also help.

Kids sometimes use smoking as a way to withdraw from life's problems [source: Schwebel]. Be sure to help them find other ways to work through daily issues and develop their problem solving skills.