Say Goodbye to Cigarettes Today

Mom, Are You Okay?

Your kid may sense something's up. Jonathan Bricker, PhD, a clinical psychologist at the University of Washington, suggests talking points.

Ages 0-2

What you should say: Nothing

Why it will help: Toddlers don't really understand smoking or the concept of quitting. If withdrawal leaves you cranky or edgy, simply admit that you're not feeling very well.

Ages 3-5

What you should say: "Mommy is going to try hard to stop smoking so I can be healthier. If I get sad or angry, that's the reason why. It isn't because of anything that you're doing."

Why it will help: Kids this age know their parents smoke. (Young kids of smokers were much more likely than kids of nonsmokers to buy cigarettes at a pretend store, one study found.) Your child may feel guilty if you're moody.

Ages 6-8

What you should say: "One of the reasons I'm quitting this unhealthy habit is because I don't want you to smoke when you're older. But quitting is very hard for me." (If you've tried to quit before and failed, be truthful with your child about that fact.)

Why it will help: Your honesty may lead him to think twice when faced with the choice of smoking in the future. And letting him know about your struggle with quitting will help him see that some things in life require time and patience.

Ages 9-12

What you should say: "Quitting is something I'm doing for my health and yours. I have other adults to help me try to succeed -- which I might not be able to do. If you want to ask sometimes how I'm doing and cheer me on, that would be great."

Why it will help: Involving your child can strengthen your bond, but you don't want to make him your primary support because he might blame himself if you go back to smoking.

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