Wednesday, June 15, 2011

How to Deal with your Pre-Teen who Smokes By: Grandma Jeddah

Dealing with the issue of your pre-teen smoking is not likely to have a quick or easy solution.  This is because the reasons why youth begin smoking can be related to numerous social and personal issues.  Also, if your child is addicted, the road to becoming un-addicted may be long and difficult for him. 
Find a suitable time and in a non-judgmental and calm manner let your son know that you are aware that he is smoking.  There’s no need to let him know how you came to know of this, the point is that you know.  Find out why your son is smoking.  This is easier said than done.  The answer, is important, however because it will determine how you should proceed.  This is not to say there are clear cut 1-2-3 steps to solving the problem of your youth smoking.  It simply means you will have an advantage in knowing which tools to use to help you work on the problem, insha’Allah.
Ask your son why he is smoking? Find out through listening and knowing him if he is acting out due to rebellion and defiance against you and other authority figures in your home.  Listen to your child.  You may not be able to get all of the answers you wish to have at one sitting, but don’t give up on trying to find answers to your son’s reasons for smoking—in a non critical fashion.  Also, think about the answers to questions such as the following: Are there domestic problems within the home, does your child have a negative relationship with you? Is your child having problems in school?  Is your son reprimanded often at home? If the answers to questions such as these are yes, your son may be using smoking as a crutch to cope with hidden feelings of pain, hurt and anger. He may have a desire to go against your rules and wishes in an attempt to get back at you for his feelings of resentment.  These issues will need to be resolved along with the issue of smoking .
If your son’s family situation is “normal,” the problem could be peer pressure from unsavory friends.  Other than locking him up in his room, there isn't much you can do to stop him from associating with certain friends.   You can, however, seek ways to introduce him to friends that are more likely to have a positive influence over him.  Try to get him involved with youth activities at masjids. Also find adult male relatives who are positive role models and willing to spend time with your son.  In addition, see if you can get him involved in sports leagues.  Youth involved in sports activities are more concerned with their health and likely to discourage his smoking behavior.
Another thing you can do is introduce him to an assortment of hobbies.  Hobbies offer a distraction for boredom and stress which can contribute to the desire to smoke.  They can also help your son develop interests that can help build his self-esteem. Some hobbies he can get involved in are woodwork, leatherwork, karate, swimming and horseback riding.  Check out your local YMCA, or community college to see if they have any programs for youth your son’s age.
You can also teach your son how to say “No,” when he’s being pressured by peers.  Let him know that it's OK to say, “No, I’m cool without that,” or “I have to go,” Or simply, “No.”
Be aware that if your son has been smoking for some time, he may be addicted.  This adds another dimension to his smoking issue.  Unless he has a strong desire to quit, there’s not much you can do to get him to quit.  However, you can set limits within your own home.  Let him know, in the tone and manner you would a close friend, that you don’t approve of smoking and that you won’t allow it in your home. 
Find out if your son would like to quit. If he has a desire to stop, he may have great difficulty on his own.  He’ll need your long-term support, insha’Allah.   Explain to him that changing friends from those who smoke to those who don’t can aid him in trying to stop. Also, you can seek out support groups that help teens stop smoking.  Find out more about these kinds of programs from your personal physician, local hospital, or local teen organizations online. Provide DVD’s, and booklets for him that provide information on the harmful effects of smoking. Also explain to him the Islamic concept that what is harmful to us should be avoided.
Remember to keep the channels of communication open with your son.  He needs to know that you are there for him if he decides to change for the better. This is done by avoiding confrontations as much as possible and developing a kind and respectful relationship.  It is critical that you obtain outside support and family assistance to help your son feel connected to family and other honorable based institutions, such as the masjid, volunteer organizations, or work.  He needs to feel a part of legitimate institutions so that he will not have a need to feel important with disreputable peer groups.
You can get more tips on how to discipline your teen without hitting, shouting or shaming by ordering Grandma Jeddah’s  e-Book Discipline without Disrespecting: Discover the Hidden Secrets of How to Effectively Discipline your Muslim Child—And Keep Your Peace of Mind While at It. Or you can subscribe to her free newsletter at http://www.grandmajeddah.com/

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