How to Talk About Peer Pressure With Your Teen

We hear the term “peer pressure” being thrown around a lot these days. But what is peer pressure, really? Depending on the age and maturity level of your teen, it can look very different. I highly recommend starting the conversation about peer pressure with your kids in late elementary or early middle school so that the topic becomes commonplace between the two of you by the teen years. This way, if a serious situation arises that they don’t know how to handle, they will hopefully come and talk to you. If you’ve never discussed the topic of peer pressure before, don’t expect them to seek your help or guidance after the fact. Take the proactive approach.

Firstly, start off by asking your kids, “Do you know what peer pressure is?” This can get the ball rolling. You can talk about the classic definition of peer pressure, you can ask them to explain in their own words what they think it is and you can ask them to share examples with you that they’ve seen at school, on TV or read about in books. Then, take those examples (that your teen shared) and directly apply them to your child’s life. Create peer pressure scenarios using real people, names, locations and situations that are familiar to your child. See what your teen says or does once the example is REAL within the context of their own world and not just an external educational exercise. Create age-appropriate, but complex situations and see how your child handles them. This gives you the opportunity to witness how your child thinks through peer pressure and that will provide you with the perfect opportunity to give them the guidance and advice they may need.

To read more, go to The Five Moms Blog.

 

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How Does Your Self-Esteem in High School Affect you Later?

Recently I was  interviewed by a 16-year-old girl for a teen blog on the topic of self-esteem.  Below is part of that interview.

How can a girl be a good friend to her peers who seem to have personal struggles?

Having a close friend, a “best friend” or a group of friends that you can talk to openly is incredibly important for every girl. Sometimes there are things you just want to talk to a friend about.  If a peer is dealing with a struggle and she comes to you/confides in you, that’s very important. It means that she feels safe with you and trust you as a friend. First and foremost, just being there to listen is always appreciated. Don’t think that you have to have all the answers.  Just talking about something that maybe you have struggled with as well helps her feel not so alone in her situation. However, if your friend is struggling with something that could be damaging to herself, you can be supportive and listen, but you may need some input or guidance from an adult. That is a lot of responsibility for you to take on and you may need to talk to someone who has more experience in that area. A few suggestions would be: You can go with her and talk to your school counselor or you could go with her and talk to a family member.  Bottom line, letting her know that you’re there for her whether you have all the answers or not is probably the most important thing.

How does a girl’s self-esteem in high school affect what happens to her later on?

The high school years are a critical time in a teen’s life. This is the time that developmental psychologists call “identity vs. role confusion.” Which just means, you are trying to figure out what you like , independent of your friends and family, and you are trying to decide who you want to become.  So much is going on with a girl at this age mentally, physically and emotionally. Being comfortable with who you are is key.  Having a positive relationship with your parents and having a group of girlfriends who you can trust is also important.  If issues or challenges aren’t worked out during this phase in your life, chances are a girl will continue to deal with the same issues and struggles into college. Don’t keep things inside. Tell others how you feel. The #1 mistake I see from teens is not telling their parents when they are dealing with a big issue. Trust me, if you are dealing with something that you see as a struggle, your parents want to know about it and want to help you.

Easy Steps to RAISE Your Self-Esteem

  • R – Resilience
  • A – Attitude/Adaptability
  • I – Independence
  • S – Self-respect
  • E – Empowerment

For many of us, we have daily struggles at home, at work, as well as in our social lives. For adults, managing many of these relationships can be difficult. Now imagine yourself as a 15-year-old girl trying to maneuver the landscape of her everyday life.  Without tools, strategies, or resources this is nearly impossible.  Having counseled and interviewed hundreds of teen girls, I designed  a system to help them combat these challenges. I created my system to RAISE  their self-esteem. RAISE stands for: Resilience, Attitude, Independence, Self-Respect and Empowerment. Being more conscious of these terms, their meanings and their connection as a whole is critical for forming positive relationships as well as a healthy sense of self.  I see RAISE as a toolkit for self-esteem. Once young women can differentiate among these tools and know how to use them, I truly believe they will be on their way to healthier living.

Resilience (Or self perseverance) is a great defense against peer pressure.

It’s probably no surprise that teens rate their friend’s and classmates disapproval as most difficult to take; however, it may surprise you that behind friends, a far second would be their teachers and in last place are mom and dad. Disapproval by their friends and classmates will be avoided at any cost.  This is where peer pressure can come into play if they do not have a strong sense of self (healthy self-esteem).  To combat those pressures, resilience must be built up and nurtured by family and friends early on. Support systems must also be in place to continually foster their self-esteem as they grow.

Attitude- Having a positive attitude will always enhance your self-esteem.

Developmentally, the teen years are extremely complex.  Dynamics among friendships start to shift, extreme self-awareness takes hold, not to mention identity development mixed with puberty.  Throne together this is a concoction waiting for disaster.  Teen girls deal with these changes in many ways.  Some become moody, some find themselves crying over big and small issues, some begin to challenge their parents, and many express feeling sad or depressed for no reason.  That can be a very scary experience which causes extreme confusion.  Staying mentally fit with a positive attitude is key.  My technique offer suggestions and guidance on ways to build and keep up a positive attitude.

Independence- Physical activity, sports, hard work and encouragement can foster independence.

Teens must be encouraged to take on challenges big or small and need praise for their successes and understanding for their defeats.  Sports or other forms of physical activity are perfect for pushing them forward in their independence.  However, this is also where their self-esteem will be tested.  Encourage them to keep going and ultimately they will grow strong, trust in themselves and look inward for approval.  This is the pinnacle of independence.  There is something very powerful in pushing oneself further that you expect you can go to really make you realize what you are made of.  Also, trying a new physical challenge can be a huge confidence builder.  Through RAISE, I will share the benefits of these activities and how they relate to a sense of independence and ultimately positive self-esteem.

Self-Respect- Knowing and approving of yourself is key to healthy self-esteem.

Another term we could use here would be pride. Teens sometimes have difficulty with this concept because they tie it to closely to acceptance by their peers.  Sometimes teens confuse authentic friendships as well as intimate relationships with those that can actually be quite damaging.  If you ask a teen to define self-respect, most of them can. However, they have a difficult time turning those words into action. They don’t understand what self-respect looks like in practice.   My technique can show them what self-respect looks like in action. By talking to teens, I understand their views on self-respect and where they think they or other teens go wrong.  I give concrete examples of authentic relationships and self-respect.

Empowerment (or Encouragement)

Family can be another factor which may contribute to the rise or fall of positive self-esteem.  A family can be the typical structure we see on television with 2 parents, siblings, as well as extended family. However, not everyone comes from that structure, so I define family as that group of people who authentically love, protect, and care about your well-being.  Now, when looking at the typical family unit, messaging by parents is often a powerful tool for building self-esteem.  Children who feel heard by their parents and empowered perceive themselves as important to the make up of the family and tend to have more positive self-esteem.  In addition, adolescents who feel well liked by their parents, also tend to have higher self-esteem.  Children who hear positive affirmations that they are pretty, smart, or good athletes tend to have higher self-esteem as well.  Language in the home can have a direct impact on the formation of healthy adolescent self-esteem. Friends, teachers, coaches and supervisors can also be part of the family unit and play critical roles in fostering  teen empowerment.

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