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.
Excerpt from my recent article for The Five Moms Blog
The face of teen bullying has really changed over the years. It’s not restricted to the old image of a bully in the cafeteria or on the bus that calls you names to your face or picks a physical fight with you. It can be a group ignoring your child, avoiding them or acting like they are invisible. With social media, it’s even easier to bully via Facebook, texts, tweets, etc. Cyberbullies can be sneaky these days. They might hide their identity – sharing damaging photos of your child, leaving anonymous comments or targeting their victims in other indirect ways. For some teens, telling mom and dad that they are being bullied, doesn’t feel like an option. It makes it more real and they don’t know how their parents are going to respond, so they often decide to keep it to themselves.
Here are three pieces of advice:
- Practice assertiveness training techniques with your kids at home. It can be tied to a game, a healthy debate or a dinner conversation. Use bullying as the main topic and let the conversation naturally unfold. Starting with a question usually helps. “What does bullying look like these days?” Or, if your child wants a more private experience, encourage them to practice assertiveness in front of their bedroom mirror. Have them stare their reflection straight in the eyes as they speak. Give them some language if they don’t know what to say. Practicing NO is always a good start. “No, you can’t look at my homework.” “No, I’m not listening to you.” “No, I’m not doing that.” As they say it to the mirror, have them focus on their tone. Sometimes how you say something is even more powerful than the actual words you say. Then they can more comfortably transfer these techniques to an actual bullying situation.
To read more click here.
Parents typically ask me to tell them what they should do (or could do) better in regards to strengthening their relationship/communication with their teen. So, I thought I’d pull together the top 5 things that teens mention about their communication or lack of communication with their parents that actually bothers them.
1) Take the time to “listen” to your teen. Many teens tell me that they don’t tell their parents certain things (bigger issues) because they will literally not remember. This can be crushing for a teen and once it happens, they will not open up and make that same mistake again. Parents please be engaged. Look at your teen when they are talking to you and show that you are interested in what they have to say.
2) Know your teen’s friends. This is critical. Some of your teen’s friends are good influences and some are bad. Meet them all and know who your teen is spending time with after school and on weekends. At the very least, meet the parents and have a cordial relationship with them if you aren’t already acquaintances. That way looking out for your teens becomes a shared effort.
3) Talk to your child during other times, not just during dinner. Many of the teens I speak with say that dinner is basically the time their parents engage with them. Teens aren’t stupid. They can feel when the questions seem forced or even rushed because you still have a million things to do later. They aren’t telling you anything of significance over dinner– trust me.
4) There is more to talk about than just school. Almost ever teen tells me that their parents always ask about school or the generic “How was your day?” question. Parents, don’t play it safe all the time. Ask specific questions about their friends, pressures, stress, boys, anxiety. Teens are perceptive. They can tell when you really don’t want to hear the tough answers so they give you the “everything is fine” routine. Don’t buy it.
5) Sometimes when your teen doesn’t want to talk…. they just don’t feel like talking. Remember what is was like being 16? It doesn’t necessarily mean that anything is wrong. The more you push, the most they will retreat. Give it a few days and see if the withdrawing still occurs. If it does then press the issue, but not at the dinner table.