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Teen Smoking

answered 06:59 AM EST, Wed October 26, 2011
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My 13 year old son is smoking cigarettes and I do not know what I can do to make him stop. I have tried talking to him, grounding him, taking away his video games and everything else I can think of, even begging him to stop, but nothing has worked. I don’t know what to do. I cannot watch him every minute of the day and I have to let him out of the house to go to school and as a single working mom there are just too many hours in most days where I can’t be at home. He says he isn’t smoking any more but I can smell it on him when he comes in the house. It’s gotten to the point where I almost dread seeing my own son walk in the door in the evening because I know it’s going to be yet another battle about the smoking. What can I do to reach this kid who is making such a stupid mistake…

Dr. John Gorvin Says...

Thanks for your question.  It is always a challenge when teens are growing up and taking on more independence.  It is important to let them start to make their own decisions, but also a challenge when you think they are making bad decisions.  When someone resists your advice, you can make them more resistant by pushing too hard. 


I think your ideas so far have been good ones, even though they haven’t succeeded yet.  I recommend trying to find a way to get him to agree and cooperate, and to let him know you are worried about his health, not just trying to punish him.  Offering incentives to stay smoke free may be more effective than taking things away. 


I would try to just talk to him and make him aware of the risks of smoking.  If you have tried that and it hasn’t worked, you can also try to have other adults he likes and trusts talk to him, or a preferred relative, teacher or coach.  He may be more willing to listen to them.


I also recommend he try new activities that interest him, and that provide a better and healthier alternative to smoking. 


I also recommend you consider some counseling or parenting education classes for you.  It is tough to raise a child by yourself, and getting some support and ideas from others may help. 




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Page last updated Oct 26, 2011

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