Tips for Parents Who Smoke

Parents who smoke face unique challenges when telling their children not to. Learn strategies to help kids make smarter choices – even if y

Encouraging children to make the smart choice and say „no“ to cigarettes can be a tall order for any parent. But for smokers, the bar is set even higher. After all, won’t kids assume that it’s OK to pick up a cigarette if they see a parent doing it all the time?

Thankfully, parents who smoke can still be effective in helping their children avoid this addictive habit. First, they need to start talking openly about the risks of smoking before their kids even have a chance to take their first puff. Why the rush? Studies have shown that the younger children are when they start smoking, the greater their risk of becoming heavy smokers before they become adults.

Talking the talk: tips for parents
To be compelling, parents have to do more than just tell their children not to smoke. They also need to set rules, monitor their kids’ behavior, know what their friends are up to and have open, honest discussions about the consequences of smoking.

Parents should also emphasize the benefits of not smoking, and outline what steps will be taken if their children are caught with cigarettes. Those who don’t take these steps may appear to be giving unspoken approval to smoking, and their kids are more likely to pick up the habit.

Here are some strategies to help you start this important dialogue:

  • Spend quality time together. Connecting with your kids in a relaxed, natural way – like over dinner – will help build trust. You can use this time to talk about smoking in a way that doesn’t seem forced or lecture-like. Also take time to be affectionate, which will help boost their confidence.
  • Be a good listener. You don’t want to come off as preachy. Take care to stop and listen to what your child has to say. You want him or her to feel comfortable approaching you about anything.
  • Use real-life examples. When talking about the bad health effects of smoking, use your own experience – or that of a family member or friend – to make your case. Talk about the obvious risks, like lung cancer, as well as the day-to-day side effects like yellow skin and nails, bad breath and foul-smelling clothing.
  • Practice saying „no.“ Come up with clever comebacks for times when your child may be offered cigarettes. Being prepared will help make him or her feel more confident when the situation actually arises.

Another way to be convincing? Try to kick the habit yourself. Enlist the help of your family to give you the support you need to say no to smoking for good. You’ll improve your own health and the health of your family by getting rid of secondhand smoke. Plus, you’ll lower the odds that your children will become smokers themselves – another priceless benefit of quitting.