You CAN Help Prevent Your Children From Smoking
If we can figure out what need smoking fills, then we can come up with alternatives to meet those needs in your children. We can then teach our children these skills to meet their needs well before the peer pressure to try smoking kicks in. And these skills are also good for helping them say no to drugs,alcohol, and other risky behavior.
Why Does Anyone Smoke?
Here are a list of the possible reasons why anyone starts smoking:
|Reason Why Someone Starts Smoking||Alternative to Smoking to Teach|
|Boredom||How to Entertain Oneself|
|Anxiety||How to Calm Self Naturally|
|Peer Pressure||Self Esteem and Confidence to say No|
|Excitement of Experimenting||Safe Healthy Ways to Find Excitement|
|Mimicking our Role Models||Be a Positive Role Model|
There may be other reasons, and please feel free to comment below. I will expand now on what to teach your children so that your child will naturally know what to do when confronted with the idea of or invitation to smoke.
How to Entertain Oneself
Keeping the TV off as much as possible forces a child to use their creativity. But it is important to guide and support their creativity. Give them some help. Teach your child how to brainstorm about things to do. Try using mind mapping to come up with ideas. Some categories might be painting, crafts (search Google for infinite ideas), write a story, put on a play, invent something, build something. Do these kinds of things with children regularly, say at least 1-2 times per week and watch how they will start to come up with ideas on their own.
Also if children come up with ideas that seem too difficult to you, help them find ways to modify the idea instead of just saying no. By working positively with your child to make their vision come to life, you will bolster their confidence.
How to Calm Self Naturally
Teach your children how to be quiet. It is not natural for children to be too quiet or to sit still, but if you invite them to listen to nature, to discover the “mysteries” of nature, they can become quiet and really enjoy it. This teaches a kind of meditation. Anytime you can get away from modern noisy distractions and focus on one thing, you are meditating.
This meditating can be stretching, taking a nature walk, picking flowers, discovering “treasures” outside -even if it is “garbage” it can be made interesting by asking questions about it. Teach them to recognize how they created this calm inside of themselves by asking them how they feel once you see them calming down. This will reinforce their understanding of how to do this again in the future when they need it.
Self Esteem and Confidence to say No
Tell your child they are great. Be specific. “Joshua, you are very good at listening to things and coming up with your own questions. That is very smart of you. That makes me proud.” Praise them often. This will not spoil a child if you also teach them humility.
Explain how everyone has special gifts, like Rudolph to use a simple example. Teach them to recognize this in themselves and others. Teach them to praise others in addition to having pride in themselves. This will help to develop humility and prevent bullying.
Role play with your child from any early age on how to say no to things that are not good for them, like smoking, alcohol, drugs, and risky behavior. Children love pretend games. Make up scenarios where another child asks them to try something bad. Have your child practice what they would say. And then reinforce it by asking your child why they would say no. And then praise them for their strength to do the right thing and their intelligence to know why!
Safe Healthy Ways to Find Excitement
I believe what I call “excess energy” is responsible for a lot of drug abuse. I define excess energy as when you have too much time on your hands and not enough work or constructive activities to fill that time. This happens a lot with teenagers. So let’s teach our children early on what to do with their energy.
Start when you notice that your child has a lot of energy and they are fidgeting a lot, climbing the walls, perhaps driving you crazy? 🙂
If you can, drop what you are doing to get them started on an energy activity. Much like finding ways to entertain oneself, finding excitement starts with brainstorming. Let your child lead. If they are at an age where they say “I don’t know what to do” or “I’m bored” it is good to help guide them to come up with ideas.
What is exciting? Anything that involves intrigue or activity is usually a good place to start. Here are some ideas:
Close to Home
- Make up a mystery game. It can be simple or complex, whatever you have time for.
- Make up treasure hunt.
- Hide and seek is great for little ones.
Away from Home
- Go to the beach, waterslides
- Go to the park
- Play tag or some other running game
- Play frisbee
- Go sledding
- Any outdoor activity
- Silly crazy dancing contest
The important thing is to get active, have fun, laugh and then reinforce how you were able to create excitement naturally by asking your child how they feel at a moment when you see them enjoying themselves. “Isn’t it wonderful how we were able to create our own excitement! Wasn’t that fun?”
Be a Positive Role Model
You know what this means. Children mimick their parents, care takers and role models. Even if you have smoked in front of your child for years and think it’s too late, IT’s NOT! (That’s the addiction talking in your brain.) The impact you can have by quitting can be enormous. You know what to do. Find the method for quitting that works for you.
We also need to be good role models in how we handle our own boredom, reaction to anxiety, and need for excitement. Watch yourself how you handle these things. If over time you are more aware of what causes your knee-jerk reactions you can create new reactions that teach your children by example the good habits you would like them to mimic. And remember to talk to them about it, even invite their help! “Mommy is disappointed about not getting an award at work. What do you think I should do to feel better?” Bet they’ll surprise you and make you smile!
Start Today – A Little Today, More Tomorrow, and So On!
The earlier you can start teaching these concepts to your children the better. It doesn’t have to be within the context of smoking either. A little bit each day. Repetition is the key to learning. And praise your children to reinforce when you see examples of them doing these things on their own. Name them. For example, “Great Job Suzy! You found a way to create excitement on your own and it is safe! How does that make you feel? Good? That’s Great!”
And when you’ve done one of these things, them make sure to praise yourself too!
Please share this with others if you found it helpful. See the email link below.
And please let us know your comments or practices that work for you!