When you think about it, there’s likely no shortage of ways into this conversation. Look for news stories, letters from the school about vaping policies, ads, seeing someone vaping on TV or on the street or passing a vape shop. Be ready to listen rather than give a lecture. Similarly, be sure to focus on health and safety rather than threats and punishment.
Try using open-ended questions to get the conversation going, such as, “What do you think about vaping?” In these conversations, get their perspectives, acknowledge the potential appeal of vaping and help them weigh the risks against the perceived benefits. When answering their questions or comments, offer honest, accurate, science-based information rather than trying to scare them. Finally, try to have these conversations frequently, calmly and, if you can, before they try vaping.
Most kids start vaping due to curiosity, because friends and family vape, the appealing flavors, to do vape tricks, or because they think it’s cool or want to fit in. Over time, vaping can become habit-forming as kids use it to address other needs such as relief from boredom and anxiety. Some may become addicted to nicotine and continue vaping to avoid withdrawal symptoms.
If your child has already tried vaping, it helps to understand why. Consider asking questions like: “What do you enjoy about vaping?” or “How does vaping make you feel?” Answers to these questions highlight your child’s needs that can be addressed in a healthier way. It is also important to challenge children on their perceptions of norms. Teens tend to overestimate how many of their peers vape and research shows that such overestimations increase the risk that they will vape to ‘be normal’ or just like their peers.
Share why you do not want your child to vape and indicate that you expect your child not to vape. If you choose to set consequences, be sure to follow through, and make sure that these consequences are not overly harsh, punitive or long-lasting. At the same time, try to encourage and reward healthier choices and ensure that your child has other means of having fun, feeling cool, fitting in, alleviating stress and addressing anxiety or depression.
Teach your child skills to resist pressures to use. Children in middle or high school are likely to be in social situations where they are offered an opportunity to try vaping. You might ask, “What would you say if someone offered you their vape?” See how your child would handle the situation. Practicing something along the lines of “No thanks, I’m not interested,” said with direct eye contact and assertive body language can help your child be prepared.
Set a positive example by being vape- and tobacco-free. If you do vape or smoke, keep your equipment and supplies secured.