Talking to Your Kids About the Dangers of Smoking
Talking to your children about the dangers of smoking is a discussion that needs to happen. Unfortunately, it isn’t exactly an easy conversation to start – and finish – with your children. Luckily, the dentists at Ponte Vedra Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics are here to help.
We understand just how difficult and intimidating the “no smoking” conversation can be for parents. That is why we have gathered some tips parents find helpful when they prepare for the discussion regarding the dangers of smoking.
Start the Discussion Regarding the Dangers of Smoking at an Early Age
Many parents believe they should only discuss the dangers of smoking with their child once they reach an age where their child could be tempted to smoke. Unfortunately, if you wait until a child is 13, 14, or 15 to talk to them about the dangers of smoking it could be too late. On the other hand, if you start the discussion at an age when they are too young, you run the risk of overwhelming them or causing them to disengage and not discuss the topic at a later date.
Many healthcare experts believe that around the age of 5 or 6 is the appropriate time to start the discussion about not smoking. Children are able to understand what is being discussed and even ask occasional questions.
When you do start the discussion at this age, keep it age appropriate. There isn’t a need to go into detail about oral cancer and all the complex dangers associated with smoking. Just bring up the topic, answer any questions, and move on. When your child is older, you can start expanding upon the specific dangers of smoking.
Keep the Conversation Open
Discussing the dangers of smoking with your child, especially if they are between the ages of 10 and 16, can result in the discovery of interesting information. Children may reveal to their parents that they have tried smoking or been tempted to try. If this happens, it is important to remain calm and keep an open mind.
If your child reveals that he or she is tempted by friends to try smoking, explore that topic further. Talk to them about ways they can respond to peer pressure, ask them if they would like to explore new opportunities that will keep them busy, and listen to them about why they might have been tempted to smoke.
Should your child reveal that he or she has tried smoking, do not overreact. Explore what lead them to try it, learn more about how many times they have tried smoking, and discuss the dangers of smoking with them. It is also important to realize children make mistakes and smoking a single cigarette isn’t the end of the world, but it could lead to dangerous habits in the future.
Make the Conversation Personal
Children respond better when they can relate to what is being discussed. While discussing the dangers of smoking, personalize the conversation. Talk to your child about how smoking would impact their activities, health, and even put their dental health in jeopardy. Talk to them about what they find appealing about it and what they don’t find appealing about it. The more personalized the conversation, the more likely your child will be to understand the risks of smoking and not want to try it.
Remember Every Child is Different
Of course, every child is different in how he or she reacts to serious topics. Some children are easy-going and accept simple explanations while others may be resistant to talking to you about this topic. If you are having difficulty starting the discussion with your child about not smoking, the doctors at Vedra Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics may be able to help.
Our experienced pediatric dentists have dealt with thousands of children ranging in age from infants to teens. We can help parents learn how to approach discussing the dangers of smoking with their child. In some cases, we can even get the conversation started by bringing up the topic during a child’s regular, preventative checkup.
Call our office today to schedule an appointment for your child for a preventative checkup or to ask our dental staff for advice on how to start the conversation about not smoking.