Catching your teen smoking or finding cigarettes in her bag is an unsettling experience. Regardless of whether you're a parent who smokes, you're likely well aware of the health hazards associated with smoking and the addictive nature of nicotine. Because you don't want your teen to struggle with the habit, you might choose punishments or consequences to deter her from smoking in the future.
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Assign a Research Project
Most teenagers don't want to do extra academic work in addition to their school work, so you can punish your child by assigning a research project on the dangers of smoking. You might insist that your teen watch an online video about health hazards associated with smoking or write a research paper on the topic. Ask your teen to present the information once she's done with the research so you know she did the work. Even if you feel angry, support your teen as she reports on her findings and offer positive feedback. She doesn't need your judgment -- she needs your love, encouragement and support as she deals with peer pressure and the temptation to smoke.
Take Away Weekly Allowance
An effective form of punishment is to take away your child's weekly allowance. Tell him that you can't continue to give him an allowance because you don't want him to use it on cigarettes and won't financially support destructive habits, recommends licensed clinical social worker Carleton Kendrick on the Family Education website. Your teenager might have savings or other income, but your financial sanctions might cause him to think twice before he spends his money on tobacco. When you're certain he hasn't been buying cigarettes and proves he's trustworthy, re-establish his weekly allowance.
If it's a first offense and you aren't concerned that your teen has an ongoing problem with smoking, consider talking about it without imposing punishments or consequences. According to addiction psychologist Adi Jaffe on the Psychology Today website, parents shouldn't condemn their kids even if they don't relate to smoking temptations. They must also avoid hypocrisy if they smoke or struggled with smoking as teenagers themselves. Open, honest communication is an ideal way to address teen pressures associated with smoking, and your kindness, compassion and sensitivity might have a more positive effect than harsh punishments.
Discuss Professional Help
When your teen's smoking habits become addictive or include the use of marijuana, you and your teen might need to find a professional counselor, according to author and parenting expert Joe Connolly on GreatSchools.org. There's no shame in getting help. Your teen might view the counseling sessions as a punishment, but in reality, they're designed to help your teen deal with destructive habits. As a parent, you might have an angry or emotional response to your teen's smoking problem, but a counselor can approach the topic objectively. The goal is to help your teen develop a safe and healthy life, so punishment should never be the main objective.