Tip Sheet: Talking to Youth
Advice for Parents, Teachers, Coaches and More
Sometimes it may feel like youth aren’t listening to what you say but research shows adults can have a big influence on their behavior. What you think matters to the young people in your life. As an adult they trust, you can impact their choices. What you say, and the example you set, make a difference. The following tips can help you get talking.
Before you have a chat, get the facts
Because of the wide array of discreet vape devices, it is easier than ever to hide them and use them at school or during school activities. Get a sense of what vaping devices look like and separate myth from fact before you start your talk.
When you’re ready to talk, make sure you start by listening
Make them feel heard. The most important thing is that your child feels safe talking openly. Consider their opinions and keep the conversation going. Even if you’ve talked about this topic before, their thoughts can change. Plus, as youth get older, they can feel more pressure from friends and classmates.
What if you find out they’re vaping?
If your child is caught vaping or admits to vaping, try to stay calm and non-judgemental. This is an excellent opportunity to talk about it and learn why he/she was doing it. Ask questions like, “Tell me more about what led you to vape?” and “What are some of the reasons?” Let them know you are concerned about their vape use progressing, but try to encourage them to keep talking by asking open-ended, non-judgemental questions.
Try to find out if there is a deeper problem. If they vaped more than once, or are currently vaping, try to get a feel for why. For example, determine if/how their relationships with others have changed, if they are under added stress at school, if their grades have changed, or if they’re hanging out with a different crowd.
If they show any interest in quitting, congratulate them, and ask which resources or strategies they think might work best for them. Talk to your doctor or suggest they check out My Life My Quit, a support program that serves Coloradans as young as 12 years old who want to quit vaping, smoking or chewing tobacco. They can enroll themselves quickly and easily at mylifemyquit.com. Coaching is available through online chat, texting or over the phone. The program is free, confidential, non-judgmental and is shown to increase the chances of quit success among teens.
If you don’t think they’re vaping, now is the time to start the conversation (before there’s a problem). Here’s a guide:
Use Teachable Moments
When you see someone vaping on tv, or if it comes up in conversation, or even if a friend or family member vapes, it can make starting the conversation easier. Ask them how they feel about it and let them guide your discussion.
Set Clear Rules
Make family, school and sports team rules clear and stick to them. Let them know what will happen if they don’t follow them.
Focus on Positive Messages
Encourage them to make choices that help them achieve their goals.
Remind Them What Can Happen For Breaking the Rules
Teens that break school or school activity rules can be suspended or kicked off a team.
Help them understand the facts
Most vapes contain nicotine, even many that say “nicotine free” on the label. Most teens start out thinking they can stop whenever they want and won’t ever become addicted. And lots more start smoking cigarettes, a product that kills half its users. In fact, a teen who vapes is four times more likely to start smoking. This is the best place
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On top of that, teens who vape nicotine or THC may have trouble learning and memory issues, as both nicotine and THC have negative effects on adolescent brain development. And the chemicals used to create vape flavorings can damage the lungs, heart and immune system with each use, whether or not nicotine is present.1
Remind Them They’re Role Models to Other Youth
Let them know that younger students and siblings look up to them as examples. How would they feel if a younger sibling got addicted to vaping?
Not Everyone Is Doing It
It is easier for youth to say “no” to peer pressure if they know not everyone is doing it. Let them know that more than half of high school and middle school students have never vaped, so they’re in good company.