When to Allow Your Child to Quit Smoking (and When Not)
This week, after just two practice sessions, my 11-year-old son quit basketball. Before the season, he was genuinely happy about the game (which is somewhat remarkable considering that his three-year record in his entire life is 0-27), so I paid the money and asked for his uniform.
And yet I practically convinced him to quit smoking.
Three years ago, I enrolled my daughter in water polo. She had never been on a team in her life, but as puberty approached, I thought she should play sports. With tears, anxiety attacks, and lots of nudges, my daughter had to go through a tough start. Although she wanted to leave many times, I didn’t let her leave the team.
Now, three years later, water polo is her life.
Why different approaches to my children? Let me explain.
Young children don’t have much free time these days. They usually sign up for a wide variety of extracurricular activities, from music and baseball lessons to tutoring and scouts. Try to find a date on Wednesday afternoon and you’ll see what I mean. Children booked . This might be good. Some children spend up to seven hours a day looking at screens. Getting them out of the house and disconnecting them from devices is helpful.
However, sometimes things don’t go as planned.
For various reasons, there are times when a child wants to quit this activity. The parents then make the tough decision of whether to let them abandon or force them to quit. The most common argument against quitting smoking is that quitting causes quitting. By doing this once, you can easily quit smoking when life gets tough. However, there are often very good reasons why children should be released from obligations.
When to stick to
For some children, starting something new triggers a tsunami of fear and anxiety. It doesn’t matter how much they want to do it or it was their own idea. Anxiety about a new social situation or activity requirements can be overwhelming. This has always been the case with my daughter. The same desire to stop rose when she began any new endeavor. For an anxious child, quitting smoking can become a lifestyle if they are never taught to cope with stress. Instead of dropping out of school, use calming techniques to help your child maintain their integrity. Provide support during the session as needed. With every successful stressful situation, the child wins, builds strength and resilience for the future.
Likewise, children should be encouraged to quit smoking when life is not going well. Some children struggle to lose or not become the best or most valuable player. Their tendency may be to neglect the league, coach or other players right before begging them to quit. These children need to be encouraged to continue living in less than ideal circumstances. That’s when growth happens. The child does not need to register again for the event, but must complete the season.
When to call this termination
Parents sometimes cannot help but fulfill their unfulfilled dreams through their children. (Seriously, we’re all to blame for this from time to time.) And some parents push their kids to school to put a box on the inevitable college application. The problem is that when the activity is more for the parent than for the child, there is a tremendous amount of nagging and arguing to keep the child on task. If the child begs to quit an activity that he previously devoted a lot of time and effort to, but is no longer interested, let him go. There is no point in requiring your child to keep playing the piano or taekwondo just because you have spent seven years. Think about the opportunity cost here.
There are times when children are enrolled in an event of the wrong level. Maybe it’s football trips, or diving competitions, or Triple A baseball. But after the start, it turns out that the child is not coping with the task through no fault of his own. Allow the child to line up or walk out.
There is another time when children should be allowed to abandon their obligations – when it is not interesting to anyone. Sometimes coaches are abusive, players are bullies, or the program is dangerously disorganized. This was before my son recently dropped out. The young hired coach (who didn’t know my son’s name after two weeks) barely blinked an eye when my son found it difficult to breathe. It was all exercise, no personal connections, and no pleasure. Sometimes, being part of a team can be overwhelming for the child or family. When stress outweighs your joy, quit your studies.
There is one caveat to smoking cessation. When a player leaves a squad, it can negatively affect everyone remaining on that squad. Parents should try to minimize their impact on others whenever possible.
The activities are designed to be fun and enriching, as well as to develop character and skills. Parents should choose sports and activities carefully and work to prepare their children to quit smoking. However, if there is a good reason, don’t waste anybody’s time. Childhood is too short.