Education and Counseling for Individuals Affected by Oppositional Defiant Disorder and ADHD

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Teens & Tobacco Use

Hi Mark, 

We’ve been using your e-book strategies and they have been extremely helpful. Thank you. What does one do when your child is smoking cigarettes (tobacco)? 

Regards, S.

Hi S.,

Teens seem to be more abrasive when smoking, or they feel like they are older and wiser when they smoke. We now see a lot of teen smokers giving each other rewards in social aspects such as conversations, companionship, and other common social contacts. 

Research has proven the fact that nicotine has the ability to suppress feelings, suppress appetite for food, is used as stimulation after sex, and is a good way to relax from troubles and feelings of insecurities. 

Teens like to act as if they are someone special or dangerous. By smoking, they can act on those feelings. Because it is so forbidden, it becomes more alluring to teens. The problem is that when they take that first puff, they can become addicted. The idea that they are breaking the law or going against their parents and schools is an addiction within itself. 

Kids like to get attention -- it does not matter if it’s good attention or bad attention. They crave attention, and by smoking they get big attention. The other teens look at them in all kinds of ways, and the adults get upset and don’t know what to do.

Bottom line: You will not be able to stop your child from smoking. Pick your battles carefully - and this is not a battle you should fight. In fact, the more you worry about it or lecture your child, the more she/he will smoke! But you can stop her/him from smoking on YOUR property. Here's what you can say to your child:

"I can't keep you from damaging your health by smoking. But it's your health - not mine! However, I don't want you smoking in my house or anywhere on my property. If you choose to smoke on my property, you'll choose the consequence, which is grounding for 3 days without privileges (e.g., use of phone, T.V., computer, etc.)."

If your child smokes on your property, follow through with the consequence. If YOU smoke, keep your cigarettes with you at all times.

The less you worry about it and the less you focus on it, the less appeal smoking will have for your child.

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