First, take a deep breath! Adolescence is a time of confusion, peer pressure, and lots of mistakes! Vaping is very serious and needs to be addressed, of course. However, your child is not in immediate danger this minute so you have time to gather your thoughts and decide your best course of action. This may be the first big mistake your child has thrown at you but I promise you it won’t be the last! Yelling, lecturing, and punishing will only serve to drive a wedge between you and your child which means they won’t be listening to a thing you have to say! In order for them to truly HEAR you, you need to be calm and pulled together. Imagine you are an anchor and they are a boat on rough, stormy seas. If you, as the anchor, can hold strong, stay calm, and think clearly, you can help them safely navigate this storm (and others that haven’t even arrived yet).
How do I do this? you may be asking yourself and that is a valid question. Correction of behaviors NEVER happens unless you first have connection. So, how do you stay (or get) connected to this child in the middle of a crisis? Be curious, listen, ask open ended questions (no yes/no questions), validate their experiences, do LESS talking and give them space to share their experience, use a calm, nurturing tone, provide supportive physical touch (a hug, hand on their knee or shoulder), give soft eye contact, and most importantly remember you love this child and their behavior hasn’t changed that fact.
Questions to try:
- What was it like to try vaping?
- Then what happened?
- How were you feeling?
- What was that like?
- Say more about that.
- That sounds hard, confusing, scary, etc.
- So what I hear you saying is….
- It makes sense you……
- What are our family values?
- What do you think should happen now?
Above all, remember that you want to be able to have these tough conversations (and many, many more) with your child because growing up is extremely difficult. They do still need your guidance and they want to listen to you but they cannot do that if you don’t listen to them FIRST! Their brains still have much growing and maturing to do over the next decade and you are an invaluable part of helping to shape that growth.
Parenting is the hardest gig on the planet! Stay connected to your child, no matter what, and you’ll both get through it!
Email me your questions about mental health, parenting, and relationships and I’ll do my best to provide some helpful insights, resources, and ideas!