Smoking Behaviours: How Children Learn from You
The young minds that surround you are impressionable is true. The average child or adolescent around you is continuously observing you, picking his cues from the actions you demonstrate, the behaviors you display. But usually we forget about this rather crucial aspect and end up doing those very things which we don’t want our children to imbibe. Smoking falls within the rubric of this same phenomenon.
Could You be Playing a Role?
If someone came up to you and said “You know I saw your child smoking in the park the other day”, your response would be an incredulous and vehement “No. That is impossible.” A significantly large proportion of parents would find the idea of their child or adolescent smoking as completely incomprehensible and impossible. Just because it is your child and yes you did mention to him that smoking is not good for him and that he must absolutely not think of engaging in such an act, does not mean that he actually won’t. And there is a reason for that.
That reason is in a large number of cases YOU.
Because you forgot that your child looks at you and will follow through with whatever you demonstrate as your behaviour. You are his ideal and your idolizing child will find it very difficult to simply discard that which he sees you doing because “How can my parent who I look up to and adore so much ever be wrong in what he is doing?”
And there starts the cycle. You did not want him to smoke and he sees you smoking. Then he thinks about what it would be like. And remember he may have friends who want to experiment. After all the TV shows people smoking and till recently it was supposed to be a “cool” thing to do. So once the pressure starts building from his own observations, his friends, the media he consumes, he becomes increasingly susceptible to picking up the pattern himself.
What Can You do as a Parent
If you want your child to do something or follow a certain code of conduct then don’t hesitate to follow it yourself. The rules should be applicable for all and yes minor tweeking is permissible but there can’t be a wholly different set of rules for your child and for you.
So let’s list out the things we need to do:
· Practice what you preach
· Do not reject a behaviour in your child which you are following yourself
· Do not hesitate to answer your child’s questions if he doesn’t agree to your approach
· Ensure that you are discussing your choices and decisions with your child relating to such behaviors so that he can develop the ability to make such choices himself as well
· Ensure that your child develops the ability to process, understand and analyse the media he consumes so he can make effective choices
· Remind your child it is ok to say a “NO” even to friends
· Teach your child the skill of assertiveness and enhance his ability to trust his own self
· Help your child think through a situation and develop his own ability to analyse it and problem solve relating to it
Observation plays a key role in the behavioural patterns your child develops. Help him by changing yourself, developing an ability to understand media and say a “NO” when needed.