Lessons for Your Teen
Teenagers often make the wrong choices because of lack of knowledge. Here's what you should let them know about the two evils: smoking and drinking.
Often, teenagers pick up smoking in the company of their friends. If your child's friends smoke, it is likely that your child will pick it up as well. Remember that if your child smokes, don't think of it as the end of the world. Many parents are devastated when they get to know that their child smokes. Understand that there will be a time when, a few years down the line, your child will himself want to quit. Pushing and punishing him will only delay the process. The best thing is to explain the dangers of smoking to your child at the outset. Smoking kills, and second-hand smoke is just as dangerous so you need to set an example at home. If you smoke, never smoke inside the home because you are endangering the health of your family. This is why smoking indoors in public places - including pubs - is banned in many parts of the world. Teenagers also mistakenly believe that it is okay to smoke light cigarettes. They realise that smoking is bad for their health; no one wants to get addicted. So they believe that if they smoke light cigarettes as opposed to regular or strong ones, they are less likely to get addicted. They also believe that light cigarettes contain less nicotine, less tobacco and less tar than regular cigarettes. This belief is wrong. Light cigarettes contain fewer chemicals that give you a head rush, but more of other chemicals, and are equally dangerous, if not more so, for your health in other ways. Teenagers don't know this, which is why more than 50% of teenagers who smoke, opt for light cigarettes. Similarly, later on if a person wants to quit smoking, he believes that switching to lighter cigarettes is a step closer to quitting. Not true. So the next time you explain the dangers of smoking to your child, make sure you let him know that it is just as dangerous to smoke light cigarettes.
Many youngsters go through a stage of partying or wanting to party, drinking and vomiting. It is almost like a rite of passage. Before you start getting sleepless nights over this, remember that it is far better that your child can confide in you than spends the night out with his friends to hide from you the fact that he had a little too much to drink. Yes, you can lecture to your child about the dangers of drinking too much, but once your child vomits, chances are that he will be far more careful about the amount he has to drink the next time. This is how your child learns his limits. Don't encourage your child to start drinking, but if he does, don't stop him from doing so either, because he will just continue to do so, but behind your back. In fact, it is far better to explain to your child that he should drink within his limits, and be firm about sticking to his limits. Also, many children believe that drinking is a fun thing to do, but there is something known as alcohol poisoning, and if a person has far too much to drink at one go, he may need to be hospitalised to pump out the alcohol or it can be fatal.
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