- Find out what your kids think is "cool" about smoking/drugs/drinking (remember, thinking it's cool is a big reason that kids pick up these habits). Remain nonjudgmental and listen to what they have to say.
- Another time, gently challenge these ideas by using a question method, i.e. the key is to get your child to prove their own negative assumptions or perceptions misguided or false. That works a lot better than telling them they're wrong.
- Be critical about the media. Compare what the media portrays to what happens in reality. (You can do this all the time. For instance, do most people look like Giselle? Do kids with juvenile diabetes feel energized by Pop Tarts?)
- Encourage your kids to be involved in sports and activities that discourage or prohibit smoking/drinking.
- Provide information for kids about the dangers of these habits. Let them know how much these vices can take over their lives and negatively impact their relationships, their health, their wallets, etc.
- Boost your kids' confidence. Let them know exactly how to be assertive in their needs and beliefs. Role play with them; show them how to walk away from peers who don't respect their stance on vices. Part of your job is to love unconditionally, and part is to guide and teach.
- Establish rules. Do not be afraid to take a hard line. Tobacco products and drinking will not be tolerated in your home. Firmly and clearly lay down the reasons why.
Remember, It is never too early to start planting seeds of awareness, and cultivating critically thinking kids.
If you want to read more about graphic cigarette warning labels: