“Not my kid.”

“I would know.” 

“We don’t allow smoking in the house.”

Not a Fad

You may have thought vaping was a fading fad, one that had not affected your family. Fact: A recent survey of nearly 44,000 students in the United States indicated a dramatic rise in the use of e-cigarettes. In 2018, 37% of 12th graders surveyed reported vaping, up from 28% the previous year. This rise in usage of e-cigarettes shows that not only is vaping not a fad, but it’s a problem that may be getting worse. So, what can you do about it? First, arm yourself with the facts. 

  • Fact: Any usage of e-cigarettes is unsafe for persons of any age
  • Fact: E-cigarettes may contain nicotine, a highly addictive chemical that can impact brain development in kids
  • Fact: People who use e-cigarettes may be more likely to become cigarette smokers later

A Dangerous Habit

Your children, especially your teenagers, and pre-teens, may think they are invincible. Fiction: Vape juice or e-juice is just harmless “water vapor” and vaping is not as harmful as smoking cigarettes. The truth, these “juices” may contain nicotine, chemical-based flavorings, and other harmful substances. Your kids may think these substances are safe due to marketing, fun-sounding flavors, and other misconceptions. They are also very prone to peer pressure. They may even think the billows of smoke exhaled by some e-cigarettes look “cool”. Whatever the motive, kids can be attracted to this type of behavior especially if their friends are doing it.  

  • Fiction: Vape juice is just harmful water vapor
  • Fiction: Vaping is not harmful like smoking cigarettes
  • Fiction: Vaping tools cannot be used to inhale marijuana  

E-cigarettes or vaping pods can vary greatly in size, shape, and design. Some may look like traditional cigarettes, many look like marijuana pipes, but the most popular designs, including those from manufacturers like JUUL, look like normal everyday devices your kids have in their backpacks every day such as pens, highlighters or USB sticks. Parents, teachers, and other adults may not even notice these items, even if hidden in plain sight. 

Talk To Your Kids

Now, before you rummage through your kids’ room, emptying out their backpacks, and going through their drawers to inspect every pen, USB stick and other electronics you may find. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. There are some things to try first to prevent your child from trying vaping. 

Be Intentional

Start by being clear and intentional with your family’s values. If your children know that smoking, vaping, or drug use is an unacceptable behavior and that it is harmful to their health and development they may be less likely to try it. Let them know you love them, are concerned with their well-being and arm them with the facts above. Parenting purposefully with an intentional approach not only lets your child know what is important to your family but why those values are important for their well-being. 

Focus on Their Strengths

Next, be aware of their strengths and have open, honest conversations with them. For example, if you see someone vaping, lean into their strength of curiosity. They may have questions about the behavior and may even think it looks cool. Letting them ask questions they may have about any topic will help you understand what they know and don’t know about it and provide you powerful insight into their perspective on the behavior. 

Let them use their strength of judgment to examine everything they know about vaping. They may have heard that vaping helps people quit smoking. While this may be the case for some users, make sure they understand that vape juice may contain the exact same harmful substances and cigarettes. They may conclude that swapping one bad behavior for another isn’t for them. 

While you’re focused on their strengths, this is a great opportunity to build their strengths of bravery, social intelligence, and leadership, by having a frank discussion about peer pressure. They may feel pressure from friends to try vaping, smoking, or to engage in other dangerous behaviors. It can be difficult for kids to say no to their friends for fear of being ridiculed and left out. The good news is, by teaching them to be brave, empowering them to navigate a variety of social situations, an encouraging them to be leaders, you are building in them resilience that can help them stand up to peer pressure. “No, thank you. Vaping isn’t for me. That’s just as bad as smoking you know? Let’s play Fortnite instead.” 

Be Mindful

Finally, make sure you are parenting mindfully, being present, fully engaged, and accepting in the moment. In today’s busy world it can be difficult to really take the time to be with your children, but it’s so important. When you are actively listening to your children and involved in their lives you reduce the likelihood of them turning to destructive behaviors such as vaping. 

Citations and Resources