Skip to main content

How you should discipline a teen for vaping

Here are some tips for dealing with vaping teenagers

Teen girl holding an e-cigarette
sarahjohnson1 / Pixabay

Ah, adolescence. That time of awkward growth, confusing feelings, and unstoppable urges to try new things. It’s also the time when many are influenced by peer pressure to try things that aren’t good for them, like vaping. Unfortunately, teens as young as 13 are trying vaping at least once, while some tweens are already into vaping. If you’ve discovered your teen is vaping and you’re not sure what to do, it’s easy to worry and immediately think of ways to punish your child, even though it’s hard to know what an appropriate punishment for vaping is.

Teen vaping has spiraled out of control with middle and high schools dealing with vaping issues in restrooms and elsewhere on school grounds. As parents, we need to be concerned about teen vaping because of the chemicals it exposes kids to, as well as the likelihood of nicotine addiction. Then, there’s the rise in lung injury related to an illness associated with vaping. It’s important teens understand the risks of vaping, which is where finding an appropriate punishment comes in.

Teen girl vaping near a blue wall
Aleksandr Yu / Shutterstock

How to find an appropriate punishment for vaping

Your teen is no longer a baby. As hard as it is to accept, they’ll make their own decisions no matter how hard you might try to counsel them. Teens are still in your care until they reach adulthood or move away. While most parents will put their foot down and staunchly exclaim that it’s their house and their rules, this approach is rarely effective. Read on to discover ways to discipline your teen without alienating them altogether.

Always offer a safe space for dialogue

Instead of approaching your teen with scare tactics and a furious voice, keep calm. You want to establish an honest, open dialogue that will lead to solutions and not just severe punishment. Ask lots of questions and listen to their answers. Then, respond thoughtfully. Instead of trying to “get through” to them, talk about the risks of vaping openly.

Give honest information without exaggerating the facts

Once you’ve established a safe space physically and emotionally for conversation, give it to them straight. Tell your teen why vaping is harmful to their health without resorting to the typical “smoking kills” campaign. Teens know the health effects of smoking conventional cigarettes, though they might not be aware of the full effects of e-cigarettes. Lots of teens mistakenly think vaping is a safer alternative to smoking.

Explain why nicotine addiction is dangerous

Talk about how smoking can lead to other equally addictive habits, like drinking or dangerous substances. If you want to take it a step further, talk to your teen about why e-cigarettes are so popular with their peers.

In other words, they’re specifically designed to smell and taste good, to be very discreet, and to make them look cool. Tell them why this marketing ploy is dangerous and why they shouldn’t fall for it. If you need more information on e-cigarettes and some very relevant statistics about teen vaping, check out this article by the Child Mind Institute.

Set clear boundaries

As much as teens think they’re ready for adulthood, they aren’t. While parenting isn’t the same as when they were younger, it’s just as important to have structure as kids get older. The tween and teen years are tough, which is why having structure and setting clear boundaries is vital. Make sure your teenager understands vaping is just as unacceptable as smoking.

Avoid setting inappropriate punishments

Whenever teens mess up, it’s important to keep the consequences appropriate to the action. For example, if they miss curfew, they can’t go out for the next week, or their curfew is now an hour earlier for the next month. An inappropriate response to a missed curfew might be taking away their cell phone for two months or cutting off their internet access for good.

Dole out appropriate penalties

The appropriate punishment for vaping is a little more tricky than missing a curfew. You don’t want to freak out and stomp the e-cigarette in front of them. Nor do you want to sneak into their room when they’re away and just hide the thing forever. If they only vape occasionally or have only used it once, take away the vape before it becomes a bigger problem.

Take away some privileges temporarily, like access to the car if they drive, having friends over, going over to friends’ houses, or getting to use their laptop for fun. If you’ve discovered or if they’ve confessed that they have a nicotine addiction, then the way out might look a little different.

Teen vaping outside
Aleksandr Yu / Shutterstock

Find out why they’re vaping and help them find healthier alternatives or treatment

For teens who have developed a nicotine addiction, getting professional help is the best step. As with cigarettes, quitting cold turkey might be a too-aggressive approach that can lead to some unsavory side effects. Help your teen curb their use slowly until they’re no longer dependent on it.

Get them help if needed

If your teen is vaping for a specific reason, such as masking depression, releasing stress, or escaping abusive situations, it’s also time to get professional help. Comfort your teen and tell them they have other choices besides vaping. Seek out trustworthy teen therapists in your area and make an appointment for them.

Find alternative activities for them

Discover and offer recreational activities for your teen. Enroll them in sports classes, dance or music lessons, art classes, volunteer work, and other alternatives to vaping. These are not only productive, but they’ll also eliminate the need for vaping if your teen is smoking to deal with boredom.

Know who your teen hangs out with

Your kids are teenagers, so you’re not scheduling play dates for them, but it’s still important to know who their friends are. The teens your child spends time with will greatly influence whether they choose to experiment with vaping. It won’t be easy because teens make it hard, but try to keep a handle on the kids your kid has in their friend group.

Monitor their actions but let them have their space during their healing period. Follow up regularly whether it’s through casual conversation or designated well-being check-ins. Most importantly, let them know you’re there to talk and help if they need it.

A couple of teens vaping.
Aleksandr Yu / Shutterstock

Practice what you preach

The reality is if a parent in the house is a smoker or vaper, there is an increased chance their child will be, too. A recent study of Irish teenagers showed that adolescents with parents who smoke are 55% more likely to try vaping and 51% more likely to have tried smoking. Another study found that adolescents who had parents who smoked were more likely to try smoking and vaping at a younger age and become addicted at a younger age, noting “Adolescents with nicotine-dependent parents are susceptible to more intense smoking patterns and this risk increases with longer duration of exposure.” Quitting smoking can be difficult, but it can be crucial in setting a healthier example for your teen.

Whether it’s peer pressure, curiosity, emotional problems, or boredom, teen vaping is alarming. Your teen is trying to exert independence by making their own choices, but you can guide them toward a healthier path. Before giving them a harsh punishment, make sure you talk to them about why they’re vaping and how often. Give them the low-down on the negative effects of vaping, but don’t scare them into throwing it away. Always give them appropriate consequences and be consistent with your approach. Don’t hesitate to seek professional help.

Editors' Recommendations

How old do you have to be to fly alone? Read this before booking your kid’s trip
Find out the right age for solo flying and other important facts
Little girl watching movie on the seat-back TV screen while enjoying her airline meal

If you thought traveling with kids was stressful, try sending them off on a flight alone. For many parents, it's necessary to send their child on a flight by themselves, whether it's for a vacation, to visit a parent who lives far away, or for any number of reasons. If you find yourself in a position where your child may need to travel without you, you may ask yourself, "How old do you have to be to fly alone?"
All airlines have their own rules and regulations regarding unaccompanied minors, so parents or caregivers must be aware that there isn't one specific set of rules that applies to all airlines. Before booking any trip, parents need to ensure they know the airline's policy regarding how old they have to be to fly alone and be aware that there are often extra fees that apply when a child flies without an adult.

When can children fly alone?
Typically, airlines have unaccompanied minor policies in place for children between the ages of 5 and 14 years old, which means children under 5 are not allowed to fly solo, regardless of whether they're traveling with an older unaccompanied minor or not.

Read more
Why you should celebrate your kids’ inchstones
These important moments are a reason for recognition
Cute baby crawling across a rug

Marking baby milestones is certainly not a new trend. Parents have been capturing baby's first steps and words for ages. Baby milestones are always a big focus because they pinpoint important developmental achievements of little ones as they grow. The lack or delay of certain baby milestones is often a red flag for pediatricians, which is why so much attention is placed on them.

A new parenting trend taking hold recently is celebrating inchstones. While inchstones isn't a contemporary term, it may be unfamiliar to many parents. Inchstones is typically a word used by parents of children with special needs as they inch their way toward bigger milestones. So, why is the practice of recognizing inchstones growing in popularity, and why should parents get on board?

Read more
What is the average screen time for teens? You might be surprised
Know when to worry about your teen's screen time
A group of kids on their phones.

How much time kids spend in front of a screen is always a hot-button topic for parents. Constantly questioning how much is too much, how young is too young for handing over a tablet, and whether there should there be limits on devices are a few worries a parent has to think of. Although parents can monitor screen time more easily when their children are younger, by the time kids become teenagers, parents feel a lot less in control of limits, and the average screen time for teens could become a battle.

So how much is too much screen time for teens? Parents may be surprised to learn just how long the average teen is spending in front of a screen. There are ways to help manage teen screen time without making kids feel like it's a negative thing, especially if you sit them down and explain some of the effects staring at a screen has on their productivity and development. We'll break down the teen screen time battle to arm parents with the knowledge needed to set boundaries at home.

Read more