Every parent will at some point want to help teenagers deal with peer pressure. A lot of teens can be led into difficult situations through their desire to fit in, or because they don't know how to avoid the pressure. The teen years are a time when people often feel a very strong desire to conform. Here are some ways to help teenagers deal with peer pressure …
One way to help teenagers deal with peer pressure is to help increase their confidence. Peer pressure can often revolve around the desire to conform and fit in with the group. The more confident a teen is, the more capable they will be of resisting encouragement to do something daft.
You can also teach your kids some answers they could use when their peers try to persuade them to do something they don't want to do (or shouldn't). For example, they can answer "Drugs are for losers," or "Nah, smoking makes you look old and wrinkly."
It's also a good idea for your teen to avoid situations where they know that they will be put under pressure. For example, if a guy is trying to persuade them to have sex before they are ready (or before it's legal), they can make sure that they are never alone with him. That way the problem will not arise.
Teach your kids to listen to their instincts and true feelings. If something doesn't feel right to them, that is a very firm indication that they shouldn't do it. Kids have to learn to make judgments and apply common sense. So when something feels wrong, they should refuse - even if their friends are trying to encourage them.
Encourage your teens to think for themselves about a situation. What is the smart thing to do? Would copying what their friends are doing be stupid and get them into trouble? They should judge whether something is right or wrong, smart or dumb. Then if peers want them to do something that doesn't seem right, your teen can refuse to join in.
Hanging around with friends who have the same outlook and attitudes is a good way for your teen to resist peer pressure. Friends who have a sensible attitude won't try to encourage others to do anything silly. So your teen should be careful to pick friends who are smart, not friends who think that doing risky things is "cool."
Point out to your kids that sometimes people lie to make themselves appear cooler among their peers. The boasts of their friends or classmates could well be completely untrue. So trying to imitate their alleged behavior (such as drinking, or engaging in sexual activity) could mean trying to fit in simply gets you a reputation.
If all else fails, or your teen can't think of any other way to handle the pressure, they can always use you as an excuse! "My mom would kill me" or "my dad won't let me go to the party" are great ways for them to get out of situations they're not comfortable with.
Peer pressure can be a difficult thing to resist. Life can be very uncomfortable for someone who doesn't fit in with the crowd. Encourage your teen to have an independent mind, though, and not depend on the opinions of others for their self-esteem. When you were younger, did peer pressure ever lead you to do something you later regretted?
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