You’ve just learned that your teen has taken up smoking. This news can certainly be unsettling as a parent and your immediate reaction might be frustration, fear, worry, sadness or even anger. But beyond that, you undoubtedly want the best for your teen’s health and well-being. So how can you help your teen to quit? Here are some tips to keep in mind as you support them through this process.
Set an Example
If you smoke, it’s time for you to quit too. The bottom line is that you won’t be able to expect your teen to quit smoking if you don’t follow this yourself.
Pay Attention to Your Reactions
Avoid responding out of your gut reaction and try to stay calm when talking with your teen about smoking. If you’re too explosive, this will likely put your teen on the defensive and they might be unwilling to be open or accept your help.
Before throwing accusations and assumptions at your teen, take some time to listen to what they have to say. Try to gather information like how long they’ve been smoking for, how much, why they started and if they’d like to quit. This will help create a sense of understanding between you and will show that you care about the situation as a whole.
Look for Underlying Causes
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Is your teen stressed or anxious? Feeling peer pressure? Taking after examples they see? Try to take some time to understand your teen’s reasons for smoking to see if there are any underlying issues that need to be addressed. Smoking might be a symptom of something else, so it’s helpful to uncover these deeper issues if possible.
Set Goals With Your Teen (Not For Your Teen)
With all of these things in mind, it’s time to help your teen build a plan to quit smoking. Encourage them to write down a list of reasons for why they want to quit. This will help them to focus on their own motivation, instead of just trying to quit because you want them to. Next set manageable and tangible goals with your teen and contact a health professional if you need support in that area. Above all, be sure you and your teen are working together on this plan because the motivation ultimately has to come from them.
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