“I was just standing next to them”: what to do if your child smokes?
“I never thought it would happen in my family, but the fact remains that my teenage son started smoking. My wife and I are in complete shock, nothing foreshadowed such a turn of events. We as well as our friends and relatives do not smoke. We have always brought up our son in strictness, instilled love for a healthy lifestyle. It seemed to us that he shared our values: he is fond of swimming and even takes prizes in competitions, his friends are from good families; he is a good student and is seriously thinking where to enroll and what profession to choose. Yes, he has some teenage quirks, but everyone has them, and in general he is a very positive boy. And then he started smoking out of nowhere. We are confused and do not understand what to do if a teenager smokes.”
— Yuriy, father of 14-year-old Roma
Children’s and adolescent smoking is a real problem for parents not only because cigarettes themselves pose a danger to the child’s health. First of all, smoking means that the child has some problems in life: he is involved with some bad people, he does not know how to say no or he tries to solve his internal conflicts with cigarettes.
If previously only boys started smoking before they were of age, now teenage girls smoke just as much. Moreover, this is not only a problem for parents of teenagers: unfortunately, now 11-year-olds and even 10-year-olds smoke. Either way, it’s an important signal. The problem needs to be addressed immediately, until smoking became addiction. In this article, we will explain why children and adolescents start smoking, what to do if a child smokes, and how to cultivate a negative attitude to cigarettes.
As much as some parents want to believe that cigarettes can just appear in the child’s life out of nowhere, psychologists claim the opposite. Smoking in childhood and adolescence does not occur just because; there are always prerequisites for such behavior. Let’s consider most common causes of smoking:
Even if you generally have a good relationship with your child, it is unlikely that he/she will tell you directly that he has started smoking. So you’re going to have to play Sherlock Holmes and gather evidence to start a conversation about smoking with your child. Let’s talk about some of the signs that are worth paying attention to. 
This is the surest way to determine whether a child smokes. The smell of cigarette smoke is very persistent, so pay attention to the clothes, especially the outer one, breath and the smell of hair. The child may say that he was just standing next to smoking friends, but if you pick up the smell every time for a long time, do not believe such excuses.
The cough of smokers is very specific, it is dry and sounds hard. If you start to notice that the child is constantly coughing, but there are no other symptoms of a cold, it may be a sign of addiction to cigarettes.
The skin immediately reacts to nicotine: it becomes dry, gets an earthy shade, there may be rashes and cracks on the lips. Also, pay attention to the color of teeth and nails —they turn yellow from smoking quite quickly.
Has the child become restless? Does he constantly asks to go outside to “walk with a friend”, and these walks last only a few minutes? Did he start chewing gum with a sharp aroma or zealously monitoring hygiene? Does he shy away from hugs and conversations alone with you? All these may me the signs of smoking.
It is worth paying attention to what the child spends pocket money on. Analyze his spending, find out how much lunches cost in the school canteen. If a child spends money on cigarettes, he will regularly spend about the same amount. He may also start asking for more money without explaining the reason.
Smoking children and adolescents must know the consequences of their bad habits. It is parents who should talk about the dangers of smoking. Here are the diseases and ailments posing danger to smokers, and especially children:
It should be understood that smoking affects children or adolescents more strongly than adults, and the consequences can occur much earlier. Finally, if a child already has any chronic disease or predisposition to it, smoking will affect his active development.
It is important to understand how exactly cigarettes work, and for this we propose to study the table, which describes the effect of harmful components on the body: 
|Dangerous substances||Danger to the body||Diseases caused|
|Resins||Contains carcinogen and substances that irritate the tissues of bronchus and lungs.||Lung cancer, oral and larynx cancer, chronic bronchitis and persistent cough|
|Nicotine||It is a narcotic substance and causes addiction||Increases heart rate and blood pressure. Causes physical dependence and withdrawal syndrome|
|Toxic gases (carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide, nitrogen oxide, etc.)||Carbon monoxide is the main poisonous component of tobacco smoke||It damages hemoglobin: making it lose the ability to carry oxygen. The result is chronic oxygen starvation|
Of course, it is easier to prevent any problems than to solve them. Alas, this is not always possible: prohibitions, preventive conversations and personal example sometimes do not help. Let’s figure out how to break the smoking habit in a child or a teenager.
Most often, parents, learning about their child smoking, react sharply. They scold and accuse the child, deprive him of pocket money, forbid to communicate with friends and initiate “home arrest.” However, this only reinforces the desire to rebel in a teenager, and smoking of course represents a form of rebellion. Such methods will not solve the problem, but your relationship with the child will be damaged and trust will be lost. 
More humane methods are needed to combat child smoking, but if you continue to smoke, heart-to-heart conversations may be powerless. The child simply won’t believe your exhortations about the dangers of smoking, because he will see a living example, and if you try to appeal in a conversation to his age the child will want to prove his adulthood in all possible ways.
Do not try to intimidate the child, because fear is not the best motivation. Instead, tell him in a reasoned way about the dangers of smoking and allow to make a choice on his own.
In the fight against child smoking, you should also overcome your addiction. You can even invite the child to unite and do it together.
But still how to get a child to quit smoking? Let’s talk about several working methods of combating children’s smoking, which are recommended by psychologists:
So you’ve found out that your child started smoking: what can you do? The main task of parents is to prevent one-time smoking from becoming an addiction. The best way to deal with the problem is at the very beginning. However, it is possible to overcome the addiction to cigarettes at any stage. It is important to instill in a child or adolescent a negative attitude to smoking, so that he/she would never try to look for a solution to his/her problems in a cigarette again.
The 7Spsy behavior modification technique is geared towards this. This is a patented behavior psychology technique based on the theories of I.P. Pavlov, B.F. Skinner, A.A. Ukhtomsky and others. This method helps to identify the attitudes that led to destructive behavior patterns, and change them to positive ones.
The 7Spsy behavior modification classes take place remotely with children from 7 years old, take 2 to 6 weeks, and start with the diagnosis of the problem. Throughout the course, a professional psychologist will support you and your child. You will be able to contact the psychologist in online chat, by e-mail or phone.
As a result, your child will be freed from addiction to cigarettes and will learn to say “no” to the bad habit, regardless of the opinions of friends.