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Worried your child might try vaping or already is? Read tips for parents

Often Kidoinfo receives information from experts outside of Rhode Island. When we see this information as useful for our parents, we write articles using it. This is one of those articles.

Are you concerned that your child may be vaping or may be thinking about doing it? Here are tips from North Carolina’s Vinay Saranga M.D., a child and adolescent psychiatrist:

–        Show Proof: Many times, kids are unaware of the dangers associated with vaping and see it as harmless. Use research, national stories, statistics, and whatever else you can to demonstrate to your teen the proven risk factors of vaping. Help them process and understand how dangerous vaping can be so they are well informed.

–        Talk to your kids ahead of time: Don’t wait until you suspect your teen is vaping to talk about it. Have the conversation ahead of time before it can become an issue. Make it clear that this behavior will not be tolerated and you do not want them engaging in vaping, tobacco use or any kind of drug use. Don’t lecture your kids, but rather create a safe environment where you can have a conversation with them and answer their questions.

–        Know what to look and smell for: As parents, we know to lookout for pipes or devices that look like cigarettes, and most of us are familiar with the smell of tobacco. Unfortunately, you also have to keep your eyes open for the unobvious. Some vaping paraphernalia looks like common items such as USB drives and pens. Vaping scents can be anything from bubble gum and cherry to fruit punch and cotton candy.

–        Something bigger: For some teens, vaping isn’t something they like, but it’s a way of acting out as the result of a more significant problem. Is your child under a lot of stress lately, feeling anxious or depressed? Are they coping with a divorce or loss of a parent, a recent move to a new city, peer pressure or the victim of bullying? Always investigate to find out if there is an underlying cause.

–        Don’t follow the crowd: Teach your children that even if their best friends, the captain of the football team or anyone else they may look up to is vaping, it’s perfectly acceptable for them to just say ‘no.’ Wanting to be part of the “in” crowd is one thing, but not when it comes to something as dangerous as this.

–        Follow your own advice: If you want your kids to avoid vaping, you have to be a good role model. Don’t engage in vaping, tobacco or any kind of drug use. This is important for your own health but also remember your children are watching your every move.

–        Intervene: If you believe your teen is engaging in risky behavior or habits like vaping, sometimes a professional intervention can help. This is a tough time in your child’s life that includes dramatic growth; hormone shifts; social, academic, and emotional pressures that they haven’t experienced before. Don’t be afraid to reach out and get professional help for your child.

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