Raising a Tobacco-Free Kid

We begin forming healthy habits at a young age. With all that we know about smoking, it is astounding that young people will still take that first puff of a cigarette just to see what it is like. Many will not stop at that first experimental puff. Here are three things you can do to ensure that your child will not be tempted to smoke cigarettes:

1) If you happen to be a smoker, you need to quit. This is first and foremost. Do it for yourself as well as your children. Children are so quick to model the behavior of their parents. If they see parents using good manners, children will use good manners. If they see parents consistently eating healthy foods, they will be more likely to choose healthy foods. If they see their parents smoking cigarettes?well, you get the idea. If you are a smoker and you tell your children that they should not smoke then you are sending mixed messages. You need to show them as well as tell them.

2) Start talking to your kids early. You can start warning them about the dangers of smoking as soon as they are able to comprehend. You can tell a four year old that their heart and lungs are nice and healthy and pink, and that smoking will cause them to rot and turn black. Get graphic ? instill a mental picture of the consequences. If you are watching a show together and see someone smoking on television, use that as an opportunity to talk about the harmful effects of tobacco.

3) Help your child to develop a positive self image. Get your youngster involved in activities in which he or she is interested. This will help her to make friends and to feel good about accomplishments. It is not a surefire way to keep kids from smoking, but it will certainly help to develop higher self esteem ? which will help them to say "no" when the time comes.

Even though at times our children seem mature and knowledgeable, it is always best to take the time out of our busy day to let them know that we care about the choices they are making. Talk to them early and often about the dangers of tobacco, and you will both have an easier time when they reach those critical teen and pre-teen years.

Stacy Tabb is an author and publisher of many successful informational websites, including an antiaging website aimed at the prevention of age-related conditions.

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