Vaping has dominated school talk in recent years. While drugs and nicotine use are not new concepts in school, vaping has been a tidal wave sweeping up as many students as possible in schools around the country. Most schools focus entirely on laws, security, and policies to try to deflect this trend. It leads to full suspension rooms, legal consequences, heavier monitoring, student push-back, and unfortunately, a lack of real change.
Like many things, vaping is a mindset issue! Vaping will continue to dominate school talk if the focus is entirely on consequences and punishment. Take positive steps today to reduce the vaping culture. Here are 5 ways to apply our mindset training methods to your school’s vaping issue.
1 – Set individual boundaries of behavior. Students need to have a clear understanding of what their boundaries are. Oftentimes, students who get caught up in peer pressure have not planned out what they believe is acceptable or unacceptable behavior for themselves. It is much more difficult to fall for peer pressure if a student knows exactly what they are and are not okay with.
Give students practice in setting and understanding their own barriers. The more clear their picture is, the more they will resist pressure from outside of their acceptable boundary. These boundaries need to come from them, not regulated by the school, teacher, coach, or anyone else.
2 – Create a positive spin. Many people see danger and immediately think, “that won’t be me.” If your hallways are littered with signs warning of the dangers of vaping or detailing the consequences of being caught, students are likely to think that it won’t happen to them. Even if they have been punished before, they may think that it won’t happen to them again. Why is that? People want to believe in the best result they can imagine will happen.
Replace those negative signs with positive ones. Begin to build a culture of success. Allow students to dream of what could go right if they stay on track and focus on their health and safety. Instead of denying the negative consequences, you will help them begin to crave the positive results that come with making good decisions. Display this in your school’s artwork, announcements, clubs, awards, and make it visible in any other culture-impacting way.
3 – Create leaders in your student body. One of the most important concepts in our book for educators is the “Predator vs. Prey” mindsets. In the wild, predators eyes are located in the front of their head so they can focus on their goals and devote their energy and effort into succeeding. Prey animals have eyes on the side of their head to be able to see their surroundings, blend in, hide, and run when necessary. “Eyes on the front, likes to hunt. Eyes on the side, likes to hide.”
Students often have a prey mindset. They constantly look around, observe how other students behave, and mimic those behaviors to avoid standing out. Instead of focusing on their goals, they worry about fitting in. Not only does this create a great deal of anxiety, it opens up many students to vaping. Teach students to have a predator mindset, with their eyes forward and laser-focused on becoming the person they want to be. A strong injection of leadership throughout the school culture can greatly reduce the power of peer pressure.
4 – Make accountability a norm. Accountability is a crucial aspect of culture. It doesn’t matter what cultural expectations you set in the school if nobody is held to those standards. Yes, students should be held accountable to the rules and expectations of a school (like no vaping). However, imagine what would happen if students held each other accountable to their effort and attitude.
Accountability should not be a downward arrow, where teachers and administrators are constantly holding students accountable. Teach them to be accountable to each other. Engage them in projects and activities that require their cooperation and effort. Set examples with how the adults in the school help to keep each other on track. Make accountability a positive and expected part of the school culture.
5 – Actions, not just words. Every school we speak to understands that mindset is a large determiner of student (and teacher) success. Research in the field of mindset is stacked with statistics and qualitative data alike that show the impact mindset has on every aspect of a school’s success. However, a large number of schools leave it to just words. They say that mindset is the key, but do not act on it in an intentional and visible way.
Change that trend to impact negative elements of school culture like vaping. Make mindset a real, visible focus. Create a “Mindset Monday message” or have some kind of weekly mental toughness challenge. Incorporate mindset training curriculum into your classrooms, like our world class test prep program! Be intentional!
Too much of our time and resources are being drained in fighting the vaping battle. The temptation is always to fight the issue head on, but understand that the real issue goes much deeper than vaping. The problem begins with culture and a negative mindset. Strike out against the real issue and maximize your school’s success!