Anti-smoking messages seem to be everywhere, but still every year thousands of teenagers try cigarettes. It’s never too early to talk to your kids about the dangers of smoking. Here are some tips:
- Start early. Begin talking to your kids when they’re 5 or 6, and keep the conversation going. Be sure to keep the information you share appropriate to their age.
- Be honest. Ask your kids what they find appealing and unappealing about smoking. If you smoke or have smoked, tell to your children why it was such a bad decision.
- Set a good example. Don’t smoke, and if you do, quit. If you’ve had trouble quitting, talk to you kids about why it’s so hard and why you wish you’d never started.
- Make it real and share statistics. Using tobacco causes many serious health problems and has a negative effect on the way we look, smell, feel and act.
- Encourage anti-smoking activities. Sports, band or other school activities inhibit smoking, keep kids busy and encourage healthy behavior.
- Talk about peer pressure. Offer good examples of how to say no to tobacco (and other bad influences).
- Have clear punishments. Let your children know how you will discipline them if they smoke.
- Spend time with your kids. Share meals together, plan activities or find fun ways to connect.
Remember, children are influenced by their friends and what they see on TV and online, but parents are still the most important influence in their lives.