Parents, who discover that their teen is vaping, need to react calmly, in a temperate manner. Ask them questions, and listen to the answers they give. While the fact that consequence for specific behavior is inescapable, it is imperative to ensure these repercussions aren’t coming from an irrational place.
It is equally important for you to figure out whether or not your teen is addicted to nicotine, and opt for an open discussion about providing all sorts of help they need to get rid of it. In December last year, the National Institute on Drug Abuse reported a “dramatic increase” upsurge in teen vaping with a noteworthy 37.3 percent of high school seniors have had vaped within the previous year.
While the rate of vaping within the previous thirty days was 11 percent in 2017, it had considerably increased to 20.9 percent in 2018. Featuring fruity flavors, coupled with convenient and easy-to-hide vape devices, the vaping industry seemed to be luring teenagers as their target audience.
While the number of teens smoking cigarettes had been constantly decreasing, vaping has stirred their interest in, and use of, nicotine-based products once again. This is a piece of bothersome news, especially for parents. With the recent upsurge in vaping-releases lung diseases, particularly among youngsters, parents are understandably upset on finding that child has been vaping.
The mysterious lung illness has already claimed 34 lives in 24 states. Nevertheless, how a parent reacts after discovering that their teen has been vaping can have a considerable impact on their behaviors. So, what should parents do in a bid to help their child avoid using vape products, or talk them into stop vaping completely? First, acquire as much knowledge as possible.
What are the dangers of vaping?
While e-cigarettes have been marketed as safer alternatives to smoking traditional tobacco-based cigarettes, they are addictive. According to experts, nicotine addiction at a young age makes it near impossible for the person to quit. Moreover, it leads to brain remodeling and paves the way for addictions for other substances in the future.
While nicotine is the most infamous component of a traditional cigarette, it is worth noting the e-cigarette products, such as Juul contain about double the concentration of this addictive substance as compared to cigarettes. According to a recently surfaced report from NPR, the standardization of what else goes into these products is negligible. The potential dangers are quite high, but details about them are still few and far between.
Prevention is better than cure
John Mopper, whos is the co-owner of Blueprint Mental Health, and an adolescent therapist in Somerville, New Jersey says his clients report that “at any given time between classes, there can be 15 to 20 people vaping in the school bathroom.”
Knowing this type of influence is quite important. “As kids turn to teens, it’s natural for them to push back against their parents to assert their independence and to turn to their peers for support and guidance instead,” Mopper said.
In other words, parents are already struggling at keeping their children away from vaping. Having conversations about vaping with your teenager before things go out of hands is likely to keep your son/daughter from going down that path.
“If parents want their kids to stay away from vaping before they start, precedents need to be set at an early age,” Mopper added.
It is worth mentioning here that Mopper isn’t trying the label vaping as bad, nor does he wants to tell your kids to avoid vaping.
“I’m referring to allowing your child to explore and push boundaries starting at an early age, guiding them along the way, and allowing natural consequences to take place,” Mopper said.
This adopting this way of dealing with your teenagers is likely to help them learn about making good decisions, he explains. “If a child is kept away from negative things, they never learn the skill of making their own rational and reasonable decisions,” Mopper said.
Primary care pediatrician at CHOP Care Network and AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) spokesperson Dr. Brian Jenssen advises parents to be careful about the examples they are setting for their kids.
“It’s really about expectation management,” Jenssen said. “Not being a smoker and not using e-cigarettes yourself. One of the greatest factors for teens becoming a cigarette smoker is having a parent who is a smoker.”
Aside from that, Jenssen says the messaging we send kids about the use of nicotine is important. Rather than talking about the dangers of smoking, Jenssen says it would be more effective if parents told their teens that the makers of tobacco products are trying to manipulate them, simply because teenagers do not appreciate being easily manipulated.
“It’s also about being involved in the larger public health landscape, raising awareness through school systems and helping to establish regulations to protect teens from the tobacco companies,” Jenssen explained.
Creating a comfortable environment for confession
According to both, Jenssen and Mopper, it is important to avoid creating a situation wherein you might bump into a vape device your teenager is using or worse, catch him/her vaping before even knowing that it is something they aren’t unfamiliar with.
“Parents should keep an open dialogue with their kids about vaping and create an environment where the teen can feel comfortable going to mom and dad,” Mopper said. This is important even if you know that your teenager has already tried it.
Jensen emphasizes on creating an environment of the disclosure. “If you catch them, that’s more difficult, because if you are, for example, rummaging through their room, that’s more of a ‘gotcha.’ True behavior change happens through nonjudgment,” he said.
Ideally, a child should not feel pressurized or afraid of opening up with his/her parents about these concerns. The important question popping into your head at the moment would be how to create an environment where your child feels comfortable about disclosing something like vaping use.
“That involves talking and listening, trying to create an environment where a teenager can feel like they can go to their parent for help,” Jenssen said.
He suggests parents should ask questions well before the topic of vaping surfaces, and listen to their answers.
What if your teenager has already been vaping for some time now?
“The last thing we want parents to do is overreact,” Mopper stated. “What we’re looking for is a calm, reasonable response.” He says it is important for parents to control their own emotions in these situations.
“As parents, we love our children, and that love can create a lot of anxiety about them being all right. That anxiety can lead us to then freak out, yell and scream, take away their video games, and put them on lockdown for a month,” he said.
Although this might compel them to quit vaping temporarily, it will develop resentment towards you as their parent.
“While there should be consequences for certain behaviors, the delivery of these consequences needs to come from a calm, rational place,” Mopper said.
Teenagers need time to articulate themselves, Mopper says. Parents must give them space to open up and talk about what they want to without jumping down their throat. If your child has been vaping for quite some time now, it is important for you to figure out if they are addicted to nicotine, Mopper says.
“They might want to stop but have a really hard time doing so,” he explained.
Rather than demanding them to stop vaping, accepting the fact that they want to quit and discussing options to help them deal with the addiction will be more effective.
Getting help for your child
Much to your chagrin, if you find that your child has a nicotine addiction; your first step involves consulting your family doctor or their pediatrician. They will not only determine the seriousness of their addiction but also provide options you might want to consider for helping them quit.
Smokefree Teen is one such resource with apps and texting options that teens can access at any time, anywhere. When it comes to getting the help your child needs to quit vaping, both experts emphasize maintaining an open dialogue with them as it is a key component in the entire process.
It is equally important to make your child feel that he/she is not been judged for vaping. This will make them approach you without any sort of hesitation, knowing that they are doing something that you do not want them to do.
While parents’ reactions are justified given that vaping has been claiming several deaths and causing a mysterious lung illness, especially among youngsters, it makes a lot of sense to remain calm after discovering that your child is vaping.
Moreover, educating them about the risks involved in using vape products such as e-cigarettes will help them realize the dangers they are exposing themselves to. There is a possibility that your teenager might just be using a vape device to be a part of the school’s coolest gang, or is probably been misled by someone into believing that vaping makes them look fashionable.