What To Do When Your Foster Child Smokes Cigarettes

Cigarettes are a big 'no no' in my house. Both of my grandparents died from complications involving smoking and I'm avidly against anyone else going through the same horrific experiences they did. So when a child in my home smokes cigarettes- and I find out about it- I have a hard time keeping my cool. But, as always, I take great effort to understand my children over judging them. They've lived different lives than I have- and made different choices in return. I have no place to judge, but I do have a place to encourage a healthier life. So here's what I do.

Ask them why they started: First things first, I talk to them about it. When did they start smoking? Why? Most kids will simply say "because my friends did", and so comes the "If your friends jumped off of a bridge- would you?' lecture. I try to explain to my child that they can fit in and also say no. True friends won't care if you do the same things as them, and they'll respect your personal choices. I have a tough time not lecturing in this situation. But I have to remind myself that they also need to talk through this- so I try hard to keep my mouth shut and let theirs be open.

Take away any cigarettes they may have: Let them know you do not support unhealthy habits and that you're going to need to take away their cigarettes. BUT, tell them that they can go to the store and spend the money the cigarettes are worth on other items. This way you're not simply taking their property (that they spent their own money on). You're replacing their old property with new property.
Talk about why it's bad: Talk together about why cigarettes are bad. Watch documentaries on smoking. Read books. Talk to school counselors and case workers together. Show them that you're worried about them for a good reason. And you don't want to see their teeth get yellow and their lips get wrinkly.

Sign them up for a smoker's quitting program: There are all kinds of smokers quitting support groups. Sign your child up for one and attend meetings together. Encourage them to enter discussions and talk through things together. This also gives them a way to find people going through the same issues- and gives them a sense of belonging and motivation.

Help them find a quitting technique: Work together to find a quitting technique that matches them. Whether it's the patch, or a vapor cigarette, or gum chewing- or any other technique, find one that works and stick to it. Try different ideas until you find one your child is excited about.

Continue to educate them on the repurcussions of smoking: Just because your child quit smoking, doesn't mean they won't start up again. Continue to reinforce the knowledge of negative effects of smoking. Continue to teach them why they shouldn't smoke. And continue to encourage them to live a better lifestyle.

Find out who supplied the cigarettes: This is important not just for your child- but other kids also being supplied cigarettes underage. So figure out who's supplying the cigarettes and confront them. Let them know that if you continue to find your child with cigarettes or other of their friends with cigarettes that you will turn them into the police. This gives them a chance to change their behavior. But if they do continue to supply underage kids- it's time to take lawful action.

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