Be a good role model

Many parents believe that they don’t hold much influence over their own kids. But most kids say that their parents are the single greatest factor in choosing not to smoke, drink or take other drugs. You’re the best role model they have- your actions often speak louder than words.

Tips for Being a Good Role Model

Parents are a child’s first teachers and best role models.  Children are not born with the knowledge or skills required to make healthy decisions in life, and so they eagerly look for someone to learn from and try to be like.  Usually, that person is one or both of their parents.  Children are more affected by their parents’ actions than they are by what their parents say.  They learn how to behave by copying how their parents behave in certain situations.

For this reason, parents need to be aware of the “lessons” their kids may be inadvertently learning.  Eda LeShan, a family counselor and author of parenting books, has often said, “The only way to raise a decent human being is by being one.”  Here are some tips to help you be a good role to your kids and to instill the good values you hold yourself into them.  

Be a living, day-to-day example of your value system.

Show the compassion, honesty, generosity and openness you want your child to have.

Know that there is no such thing as “do as I say, not as I do.”

Kids learn from actions more than words, and will mostly likely do as you do, not as you say.

Use the media to discuss healthy choices with your child.

When a TV show or advertisement involving use of drugs or alcohol comes on while your child is in the room, allow them to watch for a minute or two. Use this as an opportunity to provide your child with information on drugs and alcohol.  Make sure your child understands that drugs and alcohol are harmful substances to their bodies and that you don’t want them to make unhealthy choices.

Quit smoking this year.

If you smoke outside, your children are still exposed to nicotine from your cigarettes.  Your child’s physical health isn’t the only thing you influence as a parent.  You are your child’s best role model, and they learn from the example you set for them.  Kids whose parents smoke have a 37% chance of becoming smokers by 12th grade.

Spend time playing with your kids outdoors, or try a new activity together.  Laughter and exercise are some of the best alternatives to smoking, and by showing your kids how hard you’re working to quit, you’ll be helping them to make healthy choices.

Teach good attitudes through sports.

Playing sports can be a great way to teach positive values to your child.  However, many of these values are being contradicted on the televised sports programs that your child watches.  Instances of professional athletes cheating at sports by using drugs to increase performance are on the rise and well-publicized.  Other times, professional athletes get media attention for using illegal drugs, abusing alcohol or engaging in physical violence.  These scenes negate the good values you teach your child.  The next time your child is watching a sporting event on TV, watch with them.  Ask them who their favorite players are and why.  Discuss that it takes the right skills and teamwork to be a successful professional athlete.  Having a good attitude about being a team player extends to other areas in life, and by demonstrating these qualities through your own actions, you help teach them to your child.

Tips for Parents Who Smoke

How to Talk to Your Kids About Smoking

Are you a parent that smokes?  Do you find it hard to talk to your kids about smoking?

Parents who smoke often feel that they don’t have a place in talking to their children about smoking.  Maybe they feel guilty because they smoke or maybe they just don’t know what to say.

Even if you smoke it’s important to talk with your children about the dangers of smoking.  Statistics show that children whose parents smoke are twice as likely to smoke than their peers whose parents don’t smoke.  However, you can change that by talking to them.  Research shows that kids whose parents talk to them regularly about the dangers of tobacco are less likely to smoke, even if their parents smoke.

It is important to be honest with your children.  If they ask you why you smoke, tell them about how you started and how hard it is to stop.  Make sure they understand the effects that smoking has.  Children are more likely to be concerned with what will happen right away so concentrate on the immediate effects of smoking.  Immediate effects that will get your child’s attention include the cost, smelly clothes, bad breath and not being able to run as fast. 

Talking with your kids is especially difficult when they ask tough questions like:  “You smoke, so why can’t I?”  A good response to this question would be “Because if anyone understands the effects smoking can have it’s me.  I don’t want you to have to deal with the health effects that I have because I smoke.  I want you to be healthy and active.  I am limited in what I can do because I have hurt my lungs and have problems breathing.”

It is also a good idea to set consequences for smoking, and be sure that you are able to follow through with the rules.  If you don’t follow through, you send the message that your rules are not really important and that it’s okay to break them.

Remember that as parents you are the Number One influence in your child’s life.  Talk to them about your experience with smoking and let them know that you want a healthier life for them.