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As adults, we know that smoking is a bad habit. We know that smoking can cause a plethora of health issues and diseases; cigarettes can cause several cancers, lung disease, emphysema, heart disease, diabetes, and many more serious illnesses.
However, as adults, we are able to make an informed decision about starting smoking and if an adult starts smoking, in the majority of instances they do so knowing they are putting their health at risk.
Smoking is an unhealthy lifestyle choice for anyone but when a child starts smoking it can be a shocking and scary situation for their parents to be in.
If your 9-year-old daughter smokes (or you have any young child that has recently started smoking) you may have arrived at this article looking for advice on how to handle the situation.
We are here to help you through this difficult time. In this article, we cover the risks of smoking in children and young girls, why your daughter may have started smoking, how to help your child to stop smoking and what to do if you are a smoker yourself, and want to encourage your child to quit.
Table of Contents
- 1 My 9-Year-Old Daughter Smokes – What Now?
- 2 Why Do Young Children Start Smoking?
- 3 How Can I Help My Child Quit Smoking
- 4 I Am A Smoker And My Child Smokes – What Should I Do?
- 5 The Final Thought
My 9-Year-Old Daughter Smokes – What Now?
If your 9-year-old daughter has started smoking this is a very serious issue that needs addressing right away. The way you handle the situation will greatly influence your child’s ability and desire to quit smoking.
Kids don’t always do as we ask and we cover the best ways to help your child quit smoking later in this article. Firstly, as a parent, you need to understand why children start smoking in the first place.
Why Do Young Children Start Smoking?
There is not just one reason why some children start smoking. Children as young as nine may start smoking for one or more of the following reasons:
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Their parents smoke
If a child sees their parent smoke every single day then smoking becomes normalized and appealing.
Smoking does not always cause obvious health problems in adults and children may struggle to believe smoking is unhealthy if their smoking parent appears to be fit and well.
Research has found children of parents who smoke are more likely to try smoking and to try it at a younger age than the children of non-smokers.
Also, it is easier for young children to get hold of cigarettes if their parents have them in the house – they don’t need a fake ID or older friends, the cigarettes are available to tempt them right at home.
Older friends and siblings, older family members, and even parents can put pressure on children to try cigarettes. Nicotine is an extremely addictive substance and it does not take much for a child to become hooked on cigarettes.
If a child has older siblings who smoke or they know older children who smoke, they may feel pressured to join in.
Children around the age of nine start to become preoccupied with other people – their friends, especially. Think of them and they may start smoking so their friends don’t bully or tease them.
They want to look grown-up and ‘cool’
Smoking has often been portrayed through entertainment and advertising as ‘cool’.
This perception that it’s cool to smoke is proving hard to shift from the combined consciousness of teenagers and children, despite all the information available and all the awareness campaigns sharing the facts about how dangerous smoking really is.
Kids wrongly think that smoking will make them seem more interesting and will help them be more popular amongst their peers. Children wanting to appear more grown-up may start smoking in an attempt to look older than they actually are.
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They don’t know the risks
Kids are curious beings and there’s no denying the sight of someone smoking is pretty fascinating.
The cigarette goes in their mouth and then suddenly smoke is billowing out of their lips like a dragon, it is easy to see why this might pique a child’s curiosity and make them want to try it for themselves.
The problem is, smoking is not at all like an imaginary dragon puffing out smoke after it’s breathed fire all over the place. Smoking has a long list of risks and can cause a huge amount of health problems that children are not always aware of.
If the dangers of smoking have never been explained to a child, they may not know they are risking their health and future every time they smoke a cigarette and what they thought was just a harmless little experiment can quickly progress into a life-changing addiction.
Risks Of Smoking As A Child
Along with all of the risks to health that smoking poses in adults, children who smoke can experience specific health issues.
Child smokers are not immune to the risks of lung cancer or lung disease just because they are young, smoking can cause children to develop these life-threatening illnesses in childhood, adolescence, or young adulthood.
Of course, the risk of serious illness grows the longer a child continues to smoke but there are many risks of smoking to a child’s health even when they have not been smoking for long. Here is a list of some of the issues that can affect young smokers quicker than smoking adults:
- Bad breath
- Yellow teeth
- Smelly clothes
- More susceptible to colds and coughs
- Difficulty keeping up with friends when playing sports and games
- Quickly running out of their allowance because cigarettes and tobacco are expensive.
Health Risks Of Smoking In Girls
You have ended up here because your 9-year-old daughter smokes, but does smoking have any health risks that affect girls specifically?
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Medical research has found that smoking can damage the female reproductive system and can increase the chances of a girl having fertility issues when she is older and wants to start a family.
The biggest health concerns for your young smoking daughter are not what smoking can do to her health right now while she is only 9, but what may happen in the future if she continues to smoke.
For example, if your daughter decides to take the oral contraceptive pill when she becomes a teenager, she will have a greater risk of developing a blood clot, having a heart attack, or experiencing a stroke than girls on the pill who don’t smoke.
Your daughter has an increased risk of cervical cancer, breast cancer, heart disease, PID, osteoporosis, and premature menopause if she is not able to quit her smoking habit while she is young.
With each cigarette, your young daughter smokes, the chances of her having a healthy future stack up against her.
How Can I Help My Child Quit Smoking
It is hard to know how to best approach your child’s smoking habit and how to avoid making the situation worse. It is important to try and help your child to quit as quickly as possible. But ultimately it is your child who will need to do the hard work to stop smoking for good.
How can you stop your child from smoking? Well, there are lots of different solutions to this problem and as a parent, you need to talk with your child and spend time finding the best method for quitting smoking.
Here are some things you can do as a parent to help your young son or daughter quit smoking:
Talk to them
Don’t ignore the problem. If you know your child is smoking you need to talk to them about it. Don’t start shouting and telling them how disappointed you are (even if you are really disappointed), you need to be calm and choose your words carefully.
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Ask them the basics – How long have you been smoking?/How often are you smoking?/Why do you think you started smoking?
Find out what is going on with your child and try your best to have a calm conversation so you can both be a united team moving forward. You could start by breaking the ice with some conversation starters.
Set smoking rules
It is quite likely your child won’t want to stop smoking straight away, nicotine addiction is hard to break and it is going to take time.
You need to set some ground rules, such as no smoking in the house, no more allowance until they quit, no smoking in the family garden, etc.
Explain to your child while you are setting these rules: ‘You are not allowed allowance because you will use it to buy cigarettes.’/’You can’t smoke in the house because smoking smells and passive smoking puts the whole family at risk.’
Explain the risks
Your child is young, they may not be aware of all of the risks of smoking. You may not have even told your child about diseases like cancer before.
It is not too late just because your child has already started smoking, you need to educate them on all of the dangers of smoking.
It may be best to really focus on the negative impacts smoking can have on your child’s health right now: bad breath, yellow teeth, shortness of breath when playing with friends.
Kids don’t tend to be overly concerned with their future health but it is important you give your child the facts on smoking while emphasizing how their life now will be affected if they continue.
Come up with a quitting plan together
If your child is addicted to nicotine already, quitting smoking won’t be easy. You will need to encourage your child to attend a doctor’s appointment with you.
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Your doctor will be able to point you in the direction of groups and organizations that help people to quit smoking and they can help your child develop a quitting plan.
Going cold turkey doesn’t always work and can often lead to relapse later down the line, research shows that people who use nicotine replacement products and follow a quitting plan are more likely to stop smoking for good.
Try not to lecture your child. Instead, be calm and tell them you are going to help them to quit and you understand it won’t be easy for them.
Reward and praise them when they start cutting back on the cigarettes and celebrate them when they follow through with their quitting plan. It won’t be easy for your child to quit smoking but it will be much easier if you are there supporting them.
I Am A Smoker And My Child Smokes – What Should I Do?
Telling your child not to smoke can come across as quite hypocritical if you are a smoker.
As a parent who smokes, you need to make changes to your own behavior to give your child the best chance of quitting smoking for good. Here are 3 things you can do as a smoking parent if your child also smokes:
If you feel out of breath when climbing the stairs, tell your child about it. If your teeth are stained and yellow, tell your child why they are that way. If you have suffered a serious illness as a result of smoking share the details of this experience with your child.
Tell them you regret your decision to start smoking
Tell your child how much you hate smoking, how much being addicted to nicotine has negatively impacted your life.
Tell them that if you could go back in time you would never start smoking. Explain how smoking has never brought anything good to your life and you regret starting smoking every single day.
You need to quit smoking too
It is going to be really difficult for your child to quit smoking if you are still puffing away on the cigarettes. You need to try your best to quit too, be a role model for your child and show them that quitting is possible.
You could quit together, be there for each other when quitting gets tough and you both need encouragement and support.
The Final Thought
Finding out that your young child has started smoking is a very stressful and scary experience. It can be hard to know what to do and how to best handle the situation.
In this article, we have covered all the key information you need to know about to help your child quit smoking. We hope after reading this information you feel more prepared and are ready to help your child quit smoking for good.