Guest Blog ~ Teaching Your Teen about Peer Pressure
As teenagers grow into their independence, they tend to reject their parents’ advice in favor of making their own decisions. They test your rules and take more risks against your will. As a parent, you may start to wonder if your teen is even listening to you at all.
You worry that this sense of stubborn self-reliance could lead your teen into a sticky situation, especially when he or she is being pressured to engage in potentially dangerous activities. Will your teen’s sense of reason be trumped by his or her desire to belong? Will he or she even be able to detect peer pressure, especially when it’s coming from a trusted friend? Can your teen say “no” with confidence?
These are tough questions for any parent to have to consider, but there are things you can do to help yourself feel confident in your teen’s ability to resist peer pressure.
- Instill a strong sense of confidence and self-worth. Teens with a greater sense of self are more confident in making their own decisions. They are also less likely to succumb to the negative influence of friends. Teach your teen that “No.” can be a complete sentence and empower him or her to stand firm against pressure.
- Reinforce trust. Open communication, listening and understanding are key when engaging in a dialogue with your teen. When the trust is mutual, he or she will be more likely to come to you with any questions or concerns about peer pressure.
- Take advantage of teachable moments. Taking your teen to a party? Use those minutes in the car to discuss party behavior dos and don’ts. During high-stress periods, such as exams or sports competitions, teach your teen about healthy stress management. Warn your teen about the negative consequences of using alcohol or medicine abuse as a coping mechanism.
- Role play. Act out various scenarios of peer pressure, such as being offered an alcoholic beverage or drugs. Alternate between overt and subtle situations. Watch how your teen thinks through and responds to each one. Use different “characters” in your scenarios, including close friends and family members, to illustrate instances where trust and boundaries may be blurred.
- Talk to your teen about online safety. With new social networking sites and apps popping up all the time, teens are becoming more accustomed to sharing personal information and photos online. Teach your teen to limit the amount of personal information he or she shares as well as limiting who has access to it. Emphasize that what’s posted online can live online for years—just one bad mistake can have lingering effects.
- The gut check. Teach your teen to trust their intuition as a first alarm. If it doesn’t feel right, chances are it’s not right. By the same token, check your gut as well. If something doesn’t feel right, follow up on what is making you feel uncomfortable and take action if necessary.
All of these things will help you feel more confident in your teen while simultaneously helping your teen feel more confident in him or herself. That’s a win, win.
Author: Christy Crandell is a mother of two, an author and a drug awareness advocate working to educate other parents about risky teen behaviors such as medicine abuse on the Five Moms blog.