Keeping children on
a safe path
Wondering how to keep children from starting to drink or smoke? Start young — preferably before your child experiments with either one — to build a sturdy foundation.
• Talk to a school guidance counselor or your child’s doctor about free, helpful programs for parents on guiding healthy behaviors.
• Brainstorm with your child about ways to say no to risky behavior. Aim for a full scale of options between “No, thanks” and “Stop asking — I said no.”
• Discuss good reasons not to drink or smoke. Ask children what they think and share your beliefs and values. Talk honestly about relatives who had health problems or died due to tobacco or alcohol addictions. Problems like bad breath, yellow teeth and embarrassing behavior may be persuasive, too.
• Set expectations for healthy behaviors. Use simple rewards and consequences to encourage good behavior.
• Set an example. If necessary, try to quit smoking or drinking too much.
• Keep lines of communication open. Check in regularly about how the day went. Ask about plans, friends and activities.
• Call your child’s doctor or guidance counselor for more help if you think your child is smoking or drinking.
Another good reason to visit the dentist
Source: National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research