I hear from concerned moms on a weekly basis about their kid’s vaping. Unfortunately, vaping has rapidly gained popularity, and when you read about the mounting health risks associated with vaping, initiating conversations with our kids is more crucial than ever. However, approaching the topic of vaping can feel daunting. How do you start the conversation? What information should you share? How can you ensure that your kid fully understands the risks involved? And most importantly, how can you approach the subject in ways that lead to honest and open conversations about vaping with your child?
In this blog post, I will explore effective strategies and conversation starters to help you navigate this sensitive, essential dialogue with your tween or teen. Here are 10 tips on talking to your tween or teen about vaping.
Tip 1: Find the Right Moment.
Don’t force a lecture. Pick a relaxed time, like over dinner or watching a movie, where a natural opening arises. Seeing someone vape in a show or walking by a vape shop can spark a casual conversation.
You might say.
“I’ve been hearing a lot about vaping lately. What do you know about it?
“What are your thoughts on vaping? It sure seems like it’s popular. Do you know anyone who vapes?”
Tip 2: Ditch the Lecture.
When talking to your tween or teen about vaping, it’s easy to want to share with them the dangers of vaping or all the reasons why they should never vape; however, at this age, it’s way more effective to ask versus tell). The best way to do this is by asking open-ended questions, such as…
“I saw an article about the dangers of vaping. Have you come across any information about it in school or online?”
“I want to talk to you about vaping because I care about your health. Have you noticed any of your friends vaping, or has anyone offered it to you?”
Tip 3: Be Understanding, Not Judgmental.
Peer pressure, curiosity, and coping mechanisms like stress relief can lead teens to vaping. When broaching a difficult subject, you want to be understanding of where they are developmentally. It’s important to think back to what it was like when you were their age. When your tween or teen feels like you understand where they are coming from and you can validate what they are going through versus accusing them or blaming them, they are going to be more open to what you have to say.
Here’s how you validate the culture they live in and, at the same time, enter into meaningful conversations…
- “Do you ever feel like you want to vape because other kids are doing it?”
- It’s normal to want to fit in, but how can kids fit in and still choose not to vape or go along with the crowd if it’s not good for them?”
- “I’m curious about what your friends think about vaping. Have you ever had conversations with them about it?”
- “I’m here to support you in making healthy choices. Let’s talk about some strategies for resisting peer pressure, especially when it comes to vaping.”
- “As you’re getting older, you might face more pressure to try things like vaping. How do you feel about that, and how do you think you’ll handle those situations?”
Tip 4: Build Trust and Openness.
Encourage honest communication. Let them know you’re there to listen without judgment, even if they’ve vaped.
You might say something like, “Even if you’ve tried it, I want you to know you can always talk to me about anything.”
Or, “I know it can be hard to say no when friends are doing something and you’re not. I want you to know you can come to me and talk to me if you are feeling pressure and need support to figure out what to do.”
“Let’s come up with a code word where you can reach out to me if something is going on that makes you uncomfortable, and I will come get you, no questions asked.”
Tip 5: Understand Their Perspective.
Research shows teens want to belong and feel accepted.
- “Why do you think vaping is popular?”
- “Do you feel pressure to vape from friends?”
- “Have any of your friends talked to you about vaping or offered you a vape? How did you respond? Do you feel pressure from peers to try vaping?”
Remember to listen and withhold judgment in order to be a safe person for your tween or teen to want to open up and talk to you.
Tip 6: Explain the Risks and Facts over Scare Tactics.
Don’t rely on “It’ll give you lung cancer!” Instead, use research-backed facts.
One of the best ways to explain the risks in a way that your tween or teen can receive it is to start the conversation with – “Did you know?” or “Have you heard?” followed by “What do you think?” or “Do you think that’s true?” Prepare for the possibility that your tween or teen won’t always respond the way you want them to; they may roll their eyes and say something like, “Mom, I know all this already.” or “I don’t think that’s true.” The win is you are asking them and planting seeds of information in a way that increases the likelihood that they will reflect on what you have to say versus tuning you out because you’re giving them another lecture or using scare tactics.
- “Have you heard that nicotine affects brain development? What have you heard?
- “Have you heard vaping affects mood and memory? What do you think?”
- “Have you heard it’s easy to get addicted to vaping?”
- “Have you heard what vaping does to your lungs? (can contain Diacetyl, a food additive used to deepen e-cigarette flavors, which is known to damage small passageways in the lungs. Formaldehyde: This toxic chemical can cause lung disease and contribute to heart disease.Acrolein: Most often used as a weed killer, this chemical can also damage the lungs)
- Have you heard about pop-corn lung?
Tip 7: Debunk Industry Tactics.
Let them know Big Tobacco companies design vapes to be appealing to teens, with fun flavors and sleek designs. Explain how nicotine can hook them quickly, making it hard to quit.
Tip 8: Focus on Their Future Goals.
Connect the health risks to their aspirations.
“Vaping could impact your athletic performance if you want to play [sport],” or “Nicotine affects memory, which could hurt your grades if you want to go to [college].”
Tip 9: Offer Support and Alternatives.
If they’ve vaped, offer help to quit. Encourage healthy coping mechanisms for stress, like exercise, hobbies, or spending time with loved ones.
Remember, open communication and understanding are key. By talking to your tween or teen, building trust, and providing research-backed information, you can help them make informed choices about their health and well-being.
Tip 10: Make it an Ongoing Dialogue.
- Share your own experiences, if applicable, about smoking or quitting.
- Role-play scenarios where they might face peer pressure to vape.
- Watch documentaries or listen to podcasts about the vaping industry together.
- Connect them with other trusted adults, like mentors or coaches, who can offer support.
Keep an ongoing dialogue, and. check in often. Remember that you are the most important person in their lives, even if they don’t always show it. You have more influence than you realize by being a safe place where they can come and share their struggles, challenges, and mistakes honestly without fear of being criticized or judged. By staying informed, engaged, and supportive, you can help your tween or teen navigate the complex world of vaping and make choices they can be proud of. I hope these tips on talking to your tween or teen about vaping give you the tools you need to have successful conversations with your child.
Resource used from Johns Hopkins Medicine.