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Ask a Professional: 14 year old vaping

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Ask a Professional: 14 year old vaping

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Ask a Professional: 14 year old vaping

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Hello we have previously caught my 14 yr old son vaping and sat down with him to explain the dangers to him regarding his health.

We thought that he had stopped for a couple of months but now have been told from his school today that the rumour is he is selling them.

We have no proof but he has only just started going to a new friend's house before and after school and I fear that they may be right and he is in fact selling them.

If caught he will be expelled. I don't know what to do. My husband and I will be speaking to him again regarding the health issues associated with vaping and the fact it's also illegal. He is not the easiest to talk to either, he says absolutely nothing and walks off and says something like here we go, another life lecture.

He started a new school last year which didn't work out and I believe that's where the vaping started. He changed school in term 4 last year and has only just started to want to go to this new friends house in the last 2 weeks

I'm so concerned regarding his health and those he is selling them to. I’m at my wits end on how to handle this and hope someone here may have some advice please


Hi @Sandee,

How upsetting it must have been to have the school contact you and raise these concerns.

It’s great that you want to make sure your son knows about the health and legal risks of vaping, this is important information for him to have. It sounds like in the past he has been reluctant to listen to information and advice - this is a pretty common experience with teens.

I’m not sure if he’s difficult to talk to in general, or if he’s specifically reluctant to talk about this. If you find that he’s been harder to communicate with in general recently, then spending some time focusing on the relationship can be important - the more open and positive communication there is between you, the more willing he will be to talk about the vaping concerns. There are some tips on effective communication with teens here.

I’m also curious because you mention that this is based on a rumour, but one which you worry is true. It’s important not to disregard your intuition - you know your son best, and it can be helpful to ask yourself what you notice in your son’s behaviour that worries you. You mention him going to a friend’s house before and after school, but I am wondering if there are other things about his mood or behaviour that have been concerning you?

If you’ve noticed things that are worrying you then it might be that your son is more willing to talk about these changes than about vaping directly. It can be a good place to begin to explore what is happening for him. This can also be helpful because teens can use substances for a variety of reasons - sometimes it is about curiosity, or about fitting in with peers, or sometimes it is a way of managing stress.

Starting a new school and having it not work out and changing schools in Term 4 sounds very stressful, and I’m wondering if your son might be experiencing some challenges with his wellbeing or friendships that prompted the changes in school? If your son is open to it, speaking to a professional like a psychologist or counsellor might be helpful for him. They can provide a different perspective and your son might feel more comfortable talking to someone other than a parent.

It can also be helpful for teens to have clear boundaries and expectations, including knowing what the consequences will be if they break the rules. While at the moment you only have the rumour shared by the school, it is better to be prepared in case you do find him vaping, so that you not only have time to think about what appropriate consequences would be, but are also able to clearly communicate these to him. You might find this article about family rules helpful.

Best wishes,

Linda is a psychologist experienced in working with people across the lifespan, including teenagers and their families, in a variety of settings, and is ReachOut's Clinical Lead.