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children talking to people about smoking

post #1 of 36
Thread Starter 
How do you respond when your child lectures someone on smoking?

DD is 5. Our neighbor was smoking in her driveway yesterday and the kids came inside because they didn't want to breathe the smoke. The neighbor just came out to get in her car while the kids were outside again and DD asked her why she smokes if she knows that smoking is bad for you. The neighbor replied that she'd been smoking since she was a teenager and it's a habit now. It was reasonably friendly, and when I redirected DD to decorating for Halloween and apologized to the neighbor, she said it was fine and we smiled and waved. So there's no bad feeling or anything. But I found myself at a loss in how to talk to DD about tact and timing. I said that people make a lot of different choices about their health and we can't make those decisions for them. DD very logically pointed out that she would like to enjoy her own front yard and wants to be healthy, and she can't do that when smoke is drifting over. OK, yeah, she's got a point. Am I being "too nice" in not wanting her approaching random people about their smoking? How do I approach the manners aspect of that kind of conversation with a determined, logical 5-year-old?
post #2 of 36
My 3.5yo son is the same way. He's very opinionated and very vocal about those opinions. He'll often comment and smokers and he pretty much chews MIL out whenever he sees her smoke.

I think in your situation with your neighbor smoking outside and your dd wanting to play in her yard but not breathe the smoke, I'd tell dd that if the smoke is bothering her, she should politely ask the neighbor to smoke where she doesn't have to breathe it in. I think that's completely appropriate.

If the neighbor was out there first though, I'd let dd know that the neighbor was smoking and maybe she should wait to go outside until the neighbor is done.

As far as the comments about her health and questions regarding her smoking, I'd totally let my kid ask away as long as it was in a polite and genuinely inquisitive way. If my ds were saying "that's disgusting! why do you do that?" for example...I'd put a stop to it.
post #3 of 36
I used to let my dd say something but my friend was very offended when my dd told her cigarettes are a drug and she told her that it is just the same as coffee. I pulled my dd aside and corrected that assumption then told her that some people aren't very educated about smoking, that it is hard for them to use their self-control, and that they get hurt feelings so we should just stay away from them when they are smoking and not say something hurtful to them. She still plugs her nose around people who smoke too close to entrances so she doesn't have to breathe in the stench but I am fine with this because it gets the point across without a confrontation. I did this talk more for my dd's feelings and not so much because I care if a smoker is offended by being educated about smoking by a small child. If a friend will snap at my dd and spew garbage then I was sure it was a matter of time before a stranger would.
post #4 of 36
Well, it may be true.. smoking is gross, it bothers other people, and smokers are causing themselves lifelong problems. But, they already know that.

You wouldn't tell your neighbor that it's unhealthy. Kids really shouldn't say anything either. Making a comment about it is fine, lecturing someone else isn't. She didn't say anything really rude or offensive. It's just not our place to lecture someone. It doesn't sound like your daughter was actually LECTURING, or being holier than thou. She just seemed to bring it up.
post #5 of 36
I think it's grossly inappropriate for a child to 'parent' an adult about their legal choices, even if we disagree with them. And the idea that some people aren't 'educated' about smoking is ridiculous, there's little doubt that the vast majority of smokers know good and damn well how bad it is for them. It's incredibly addictive, and to presume that they are smoking out of ignorance belittles the power of the addictive products themselves. I'd rather we discuss how powerful addiction can be, that clearly intelligent people have such a hard time quitting this harmful behavior.

I also use these opportunities to discuss with my child the 'control what you can and usually that means controlling yourself" concept
post #6 of 36
Oh gosh, every time we walk past someone smoking both of my boys start in about how much the smoke stinks and how bad smoking is for you. They have never said anything directly to a smoker because we don't know any personally, but their comments are very loud and I am sure several people have heard them.

We just tell them that everyone makes choices and some people make choices that are bad for their health and we remind them criticizing people's choice particularly when you don't know the individual hurts peoples feelings. I would feel out the situation, but it sounds like you handled that particular one spot on.
post #7 of 36
Eh. I wouldn't worry too much about it. It sounds like your dd was being nice, and it sounds like your neighbor took it well.

My brother used to lecture my grandfather about smoking when he was 2. He also lectured my dad about drinking and driving (my dad was drinking a soda - not alcohol! That was a hard one to explain!).

My parents let my brother b/c everyone wanted my grandpa to quit, and my brother was the only person who could say anything without making him mad. With others, my parents just explained that sometimes people make bad choices, and that cigarettes is a bad choice that some people make.

Theoretica, I know that cigarettes are highly addictive, but I firmly believe that many smokers (at least now) knew how bad they were before they even started smoking - I don't think they are smoking out of ignorance, but that they used poor judgement in starting to smoke.
post #8 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by thyra View Post
Theoretica, I know that cigarettes are highly addictive, but I firmly believe that many smokers (at least now) knew how bad they were before they even started smoking - I don't think they are smoking out of ignorance, but that they used poor judgement in starting to smoke.
Many older smokers didn't know how bad it was for them. My mom started smoking in the '50s and she didn't know until she was so addicted she couldn't quit.
post #9 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by Theoretica View Post
I think it's grossly inappropriate for a child to 'parent' an adult about their legal choices, even if we disagree with them. And the idea that some people aren't 'educated' about smoking is ridiculous, there's little doubt that the vast majority of smokers know good and damn well how bad it is for them. It's incredibly addictive, and to presume that they are smoking out of ignorance belittles the power of the addictive products themselves. I'd rather we discuss how powerful addiction can be, that clearly intelligent people have such a hard time quitting this harmful behavior.

I also use these opportunities to discuss with my child the 'control what you can and usually that means controlling yourself" concept
What she said. Sounds like your dd was just asking a question tho.
post #10 of 36
I think it's inappropriate for any child to lecture an adult on what he or she should or should not do.
post #11 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by talk de jour View Post
I think it's inappropriate for any child to lecture an adult on what he or she should or should not do.
agreed. i really find it obnoxious.
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post #12 of 36
Your neighbor may have been okay with it, or she may have been just being polite or caught off-guard. The thing about criticizing your neighbors for something like smoke going into your yard from theirs is that you have to be prepared for your neighbor to complain about everything you do that she doesn't like - a ball rolling into her drive, friends over until after bedtime, the noise of children playing in the yard, etc., etc. Those things can be annoying, too, and I can make the argument for them also being dangerous to her health in the same sort of way that second-hand smoke from yards away is. (Read the research.) So it's a good lesson for your daughter to learn that she's free to criticize all she wants, *but* she's not free from the consequences of other people's reactions.
post #13 of 36
My 6 yr old dd does this/has done this too!

We have one friend who is a smoker who just laughs when she does it. The friend will go outside to our backyard to smoke, and when she does dd draws a "no smoking" sign (picture of a cigarette in a circle with a diagonal line through it) and tapes it to the outside wall. I don't worry about that because our friend is really totally fine with it and actually finds it hilarious (I've talked to her about it).

However dd has also tried to lecture strangers when we're out and about. I've had to talk to her a few times about it, that we don't know them, and they don't want to hear a lecture from someone they don't know (esp a kid!). I've explained to her that smoking is an addiction and sometimes people don't want to be smokers but they haven't been able to stop yet, and it would make them feel bad if she "rubs it in" by giving them a lecture about smoking. I've also explained to her that some people know that smoking is not good for their health but they've chosen to do it anyway, and they would be offended by her telling them not to - ultimately it's their choice what to do with their body. She gets it now and hasn't brought up smoking to anyone but that one friend in a long time.
post #14 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by ssh View Post
Many older smokers didn't know how bad it was for them. My mom started smoking in the '50s and she didn't know until she was so addicted she couldn't quit.
I don't think it is only older smokers who don't realize how bad it is when they start. Where we live they used to talk a lot about the harm that goes with smoking in health when you were little and again when you were in eight grade (though that was a shorter version), now they don't do health in many schools, and the counselor only covers this in her once a week talk in Kindergarten and first grade, because they are focused on passing the tests and if you miss the week they do the smoking and drug prevention and it isn't something talked about at school or home more frequently then you don't get the information. My friend is young and she thinks that tobacco and coffee are the same and that the information out there about it is a scare tactic. I think that lack of education on this subject is still a problem and may become more of a problem as kids get older given the lack of coverage it is getting in schools now. It is easy to assume that because we know something is bad that everyone else must know it too, but that isn't always the case.
post #15 of 36
I tell my DS that I agree with him that it's gross and unhealthy, but that smokers might feel bad if we say that to them, so if he has something to say about smoking he can come say it to me. For my DS anyway, he just has to let those thoughts out, so telling him not to say anything at all would be tough, but if he knows he can come say it to me at least there's an outlet.

I would be really embarrassed if, for example, a neighbor kid came up to me as I walked into my house with a McDonald's bag and said, "Why do you eat that? Do you know that's it's really bad for you?" I wouldn't hold it against the kid or the parents or anything, but it'd bother me, so I wouldn't want DS to say something similar to a smoker.
post #16 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by talk de jour View Post
I think it's inappropriate for any child to lecture an adult on what he or she should or should not do.
I have to agree, although a 5 year may be a little young to understand that kind of etiquette. OP it sounds like you handled the situation just fine.
post #17 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by earthmama369 View Post
How do you respond when your child lectures someone on smoking?

DD is 5. Our neighbor was smoking in her driveway yesterday and the kids came inside because they didn't want to breathe the smoke. The neighbor just came out to get in her car while the kids were outside again and DD asked her why she smokes if she knows that smoking is bad for you. The neighbor replied that she'd been smoking since she was a teenager and it's a habit now. It was reasonably friendly, and when I redirected DD to decorating for Halloween and apologized to the neighbor, she said it was fine and we smiled and waved. So there's no bad feeling or anything. But I found myself at a loss in how to talk to DD about tact and timing. I said that people make a lot of different choices about their health and we can't make those decisions for them. DD very logically pointed out that she would like to enjoy her own front yard and wants to be healthy, and she can't do that when smoke is drifting over. OK, yeah, she's got a point. Am I being "too nice" in not wanting her approaching random people about their smoking? How do I approach the manners aspect of that kind of conversation with a determined, logical 5-year-old?
As a smoker, I wouldn't have been bothered and it sounds like your neighbor isn't bothered, either. We know it is bad and unhealthy, and it's good for little kids to know that, too, and if a 5-year-old said something about it, I would certainly agree that it is unhealthy but it's hard to stop when you start young, so it's better to never start.

I do believe in tact, but for a five-year-old, you know that sometimes some tactless things are going to come out of their mouths, *shrug* That just goes with that age group.
post #18 of 36
Ds does this too. Usually he says "cigarettes are bad for your body",
I tell him "yes that is true"

Sometimes smokers get pissed off at him. Once a lady was smoking next to a bounce house, and ds said that, she got mad and said "I can do whatever I want", the guy running the bounce house told her she needed to move away from where all the kids were.

But I dont mind if he says it, because its not like the adult doesnt know that smoking is not good for you, they just get mad b/c even a kid knows its not good!

Ds does the same thing with bike helmet (he loves helmets for some reason) - if someone (kid or adult) isnt wearing a helmet he says "where is your helmet?". Most kids say nothing, most adults say "I forgot mine at home I should be wearing one, you are right", things like that.
Its kinda the same thing, a kid pointing out a health/safety violation.

So if the adults get mad, too bad. Its their own fault for doing something unhealthy/unsafe to begin with, they know they are doing something gross and they should know that not everyone wants to smell their stink.
People shouldn't be smoking near my kid anyway, keep your dirty habit to yourself! (I do my best to keep ds away from smoke due to severe allergies we both have to it, but it really pisses me off when people smoke in kid places like the playground or bounce house area)



BTW: Most of my parents friends didnt smoke, but there was one couple who did only outside when we had dinner parties - I would always make a big deal out of it and complain as a little kid, show them my anti-smoking school projects I had made, things like that. A few years later when I was a teenager they came to visit us and told me they quit smoking b/c a little kid knew better and they finally decided it was a stupid thing to do. So they were pissed at me for many years, but in the end I changed their mind about smoking, it took them years to quit but they did it!
post #19 of 36
Quote:
So if the adults get mad, too bad. Its their own fault for doing something unhealthy/unsafe to begin with, they know they are doing something gross and they should know that not everyone wants to smell their stink. People shouldn't be smoking near my kid anyway, keep your dirty habit to yourself!
You know I do not like smoking either. However, my dislike of someone else's habit does not justify being rude and hurtful to people.

Saying they stink and are gross is just plain mean. I do not want my kid to be mean and I would never encourage him to say mean things under the guise of being honest or educational.

As long as people do not try to smoke in my house, what they do to their own bodies is their own business.

And if my kid started thinking he could start educating the adults around him about their supposed bad habits because he somehow "knows" better, we would be having a long talk about boundaries and respect for people and their feelings.
post #20 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by leighi123 View Post
So if the adults get mad, too bad. Its their own fault for doing something unhealthy/unsafe to begin with...
Does your kid also go up to fat people and tell them they're unhealthy and at risk for heart disease, diabetes, and other health issues? If not, why not? It's just the truth, it's their own fault for being unhealthy to begin with, right?

I dislike smoking too, but I don't teach my kids that people who smoke aren't worthy of respect. Asking someone to move if they're smoking near a bounce house is fine, but why not just do it respectfully instead of with a shaming attitude?
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