Tips on Helping Your Teen Overcome Peer Pressure
Though peer pressure rarely looks like the stereotypical risky dare all parents dread, its influence on teens is undeniable. As kids mature through middle school, their ultimate goal becomes to blend, to go with the mainstream, and try whatever the cool kids are trying.
Fortunately, a kid with solid social moorings and a good home life is quite resistant to such peer pressures. Use these tactics to teach your teen how to repel peer pressure.
Foster Social Self-awareness
Make sure your teen knows she has the ability to choose her friends, and that those choices should not be made lightly. The line between bullying and peer pressure can be hard to determine; if your teen has a group of bad friends, try starting a conversation using these prompts:
- What do you like about your friend?
- What are you getting out of your friendship?
- What happens when you disagree with your friend?
Play By The Rules
Make sure your teen knows your boundaries are firm. This will help him develop his own moral sensibilities, and if he’s tempted to try something risky or illegal, he will know there are consequences.
Be objective and observant. When you observe your teen bowing to peer pressure, comment on it in an objective way. Teens often have a difficult time separating themselves from a situation, or foreseeing future fallout.
Of course, so many bad decisions boil down to just one split-second decision. Encourage them to take the time to evaluate a situation before deciding how to react. Try these calm observations:
- It seems like you often get into trouble when you’re with your friend.
- I’m not sure breaking the rules was your decision. What do you think?
- Does your friend influence the choices you make?
Oftentimes, bad decisions happen because a teen is simply not prepared. Though it may feel like you’re putting ideas in her head, try running through a few potentially dangerous scenarios with your teen, and asking how she’s react. Focus on what to say, and provide good suggestions if possible.
- What if you were about to get in the car and you realized the driver had been drinking?
- What if you were at a party and all your friends started taking pills, or sniffing glue?
- What would you do if your friends started pairing off at a party, for intimate behavior? How would you feel? How would you bow out?
Expect Some Missteps
Use them as learning experiences. Adolescence is a messy time of life, a real dress-rehearsal for adulthood. Your teen probably already feels remorse about his slip-up; help him to replay what happened and determine what action would’ve changed the outcome of the situation.
In times like these, it’s more important than ever that your teen knows you value their opinion, even if others might not. Keep providing him with the familial support he needs to feel confident and secure, and eventually he’ll learn to make these difficult decisions on his own in spite of peer pressure.