How you should discipline a teen for vaping

Ah, adolescence. The time of awkward growth, confusing feelings, and unstoppable urges to try new things. Unfortunately, many teens today as young as 13 will try vaping at least once. If you’re looking for ways to discipline your teen after catching them in the act, you’ve come to the right place. We’re not here to tell you how to parent, but we do have some words of advice that might help.

Teen girl vaping near a blue wall
Aleksandr Yu/Shutterstock.com

Always offer a safe space for dialogue

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. However, they’re 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.

Instead of approaching your teen with scare tactics and a furious voice, keep calm. You want to establish honest, open dialogue that will lead to solutions and not just severe punishment. Ask lots of questions and give thoughtful answers. Instead of trying to “get through” to them, talk about 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.
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.

Explain consequences and dole out appropriate penalties

Your teen isn’t a toddler but they’re not quite an adult just yet. While they’re in your care, establish clear boundaries. Keep the consequences appropriate to the action with any misdeed. 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.

For vaping, the punishment is a little tricky. 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 besides school-related matters.
If you’ve discovered or if they’ve confessed that they have a nicotine addiction, then the way out might look a little different.

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

Teen boy vaping outside
Aleksandr Yu/Shutterstock.com

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.
If your teen is vaping for a specific reason like masking depression, releasing stress, or escaping abusive situations, it’s 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 the appointment 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, they’ll eliminate the need for vaping if your teen is smoking to deal with boredom.
Monitor their actions (but let them have their space!) during their healing period, and 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.

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 discipline approach.

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