Each day in the United States, more than 3,500 children try their first cigarette. Parents can be the first line of defense in preventing their kids from starting to use tobacco.
Follow the 6 A’s:
Anticipate: Have a silent dialogue with yourself. What issues will your child face or is currently facing regarding tobacco use?
Ask: Talk with your child about tobacco use. Ask leading or open-ended questions that require more than a simple “yes” or “no” response.
Advice: Following the the assessing and asking steps, you can provide advice to your child about living tobacco-free. This includes being honest to your children about tobacco, helping them understand tobacco as a substance, and to talk about the health consequences of tobacco.
Assess: Have a silent dialogue with yourself (again). Try to answer the following questions: What is the level of you child’s understanding about the risks of tobacco use? What are the risk factors in his/her life and environment?
Assist: To assist in your child’s understanding of tobacco use, be sure to maintain open lines of honest communication that highlights your willingness to talk about anything your child wants to discuss. Set clear parameters and expectations in regard to your child not using tobacco. Empower your child to be able to make good choices in life. Trust them to make good decisions.
Action: The most important A is Action, what you as a parent can do. Teach, enforce, advocate, and model appropriate behaviors. Teach your child the harmful effects of tobacco use. Enforce consequences for tobacco use. Advocate that being involved in other activities (sports, etc.) is a much healthier lifestyle to lead. Model appropriate behaviors. For children to avoid pressures of tobacco use, it takes both courage and your assistance.