10 Ways to Keep Your Child From Smoking
Russian literary critic Mikhail Bakhtin was one of the great original minds of the twentieth century. Yet we have only a fragment of his master work. After Bakhtin completed his book, he kept a copy of the manuscript for himself and sent the other copy to his publisher in Germany. The manuscript he sent was destroyed in a bombing raid. By the time he heard that his sent manuscript (which had taken him ten years to complete) was lost, Bakhtin’s personal copy was no longer intact. During the WW II siege of Leningrad, there was a terrible shortage of paper and Bakhtin’s nicotine addiction had become too much for him. Page by page he had rolled cigarettes and smoked his sole remaining manuscript.
Smoking can destroy lives in many ways. And the best way to keep your children from smoking is to encourage them to never start by these great 10 tips:
1. Tough Love
Sometimes a parent has to draw a line in the sand. This is one of those times. Make it clear that you will not accept your child smoking and that it is a rule not to be broken. No exceptions.
500,000 people die in the United States each year due to smoking. Most die from lung cancer, heart disease or emphysema. An enormous amount of statistics and information is available online as an education tool for your use. Put together a package of information and sit down with your child to discuss the facts.
3. Scared Straight
Ask your pediatrician if he or she can arrange a tour of a local hospital to visit patients with smoking related illness. This is particularly effective if you have learned your child is smoking. The tour will not be for the faint of heart. It can be quite a horror show. Much as young delinquents sometimes visit federal prisons to be “scared straight.” The same applies here. Sometimes talking is not enough. A visual is necessary.
4. Positive Peer Pressure
Do not allow your child to “hang out” with kids who smoke. You want them surrounded by friends who exert positive influences on them. Teens usually begin smoking because they are told it’s cool by another friend. Those friends need to be removed from the equation and replaced with those who push their friends in positive directions.
Keep your child active. Sports and smoking generally do not mix very well. Football, basketball, baseball, soccer and all the mainstream sports are always wonderful. Lacrosse is also quickly gaining popularity among teen boys. Running, biking and water sports as well. Find a sport your child does well at and encourage him with praise and support.
6. Be The Example
It’s always important to be a good role model for your children. Smoking included. If you’re holding a cigarette in your hand while admonishing your son about smoking, you have little credibility. Do not smoke, and if you do, try your hardest to quit.
7. Addiction = Slavery
Smoking is more addictive than even heroin. It is possible that you are a smoker that just can’t seem to quit. If this is the case and you have children, you need to honestly share your struggle. “Do as I say and not as I do” is not going to work. Openly share with your kids your addiction and the many times you’ve tried and failed to quit. Explain to them exactly what addiction is like – set of chains. Most likely you had family members who also were addicted smokers. Explain this to your children, so that may know the extra risks for them. Never give up trying to quit.
8. Don’t Be Naïve
Your child will be asked to smoke. They will be asked to drink. They will be offered drugs. Do not fool yourself by thinking your child is immune to the ills of society. 1,000,000 young people become new smokers each year in the United States. Stay on top of what your child is involved in and always have your eyes and ears open.
Praise and reward your kids frequently for staying away from the dangers of tobacco. Make sure they know how proud you are of them for doing so. Maybe each year during the Great American Smoke-Out, you can do something special for them to acknowledge their commitment to not smoke.
10. The Contract
Studies show that teens who smoke first tried it in middle school. By the time a child is 12, you should have had a very serious talk about smoking. A good idea is to create a contract between yourself and your child. Give incentives for reaching benchmarks as your child progresses through high school. Take it very seriously and always hold up to your end of the bargain. Contracts can be very effective because children hate to disappoint their parents.