Parent communication is key to lessening the effects of peers and the pressure.
You can't believe peer pressure happens in your town. After all, parents are concerned and dedicated to their kids and the kids are basically all 'good ones.'
But drugs and alcohol show up in every town and are a part of everybody's school experience. It's just a matter of time before you will need to discuss drugs, alcohol, and peer pressure with your child.
These days, we know more as to why peer pressure is such a driving force for the under 20-year-old set. But in earlier times, teens were once thought to be peer pressure susceptible because their frontal lobes (critical for decision making) were not fully developed. Now, researchers say it's not due to lack of development, but actually attributed to the fact that teens simply want to be liked. Yes, that's it in a nutshell.
Teens find it more gratifying than the rest of the population when others see them in a positive light. So, if being liked is the goal, agreeing to participate in the same things would go hand-in-hand.
How to Speak with Your Kids About Peer Pressure
Now that you know just how powerful peer pressure can be, what are you going to do about it? The experts say that open communication is one thing that can go hard up against peer pressure. Having an open line of communication between you and your child about drinking and drugs gives you the ability to stay in-the-know. Your child will also "hear your voice" in their head when they come across certain situations.
Teaching Children How to Say No
Once you open up the conversation about drinking and alcohol, suggest ways they can turn down peers when they get in sticky situations. If you have a child who is comfortable just saying "No," then you are one of the very lucky (and one of the few) parents.
The act of turning down a peer is not easy for a hormone-flooded adolescent who is eager to fit in and please. And remember, now that your kids have constant contact via electronics, they really have to be on their game in their effort to stay clean.
Pressure can "drop by" in an email or text! The old term "Just say no" is just that, old and outdated. To do your most effective parenting, we need to give our kids ammunition to say "No" in the coolest way possible. Here are some suggestions for giving your kids a way to say "No" with some attitude.
- "My parents already told me I don't get any chances with this stuff. They will send me away to boarding school if I get caught. Sorry- not taking THAT chance"
- "I have to go in five minutes and will be with my Dad--he will know"
- "I need to be up early tomorrow for a game, dance class, trip etc"
- "I've tried it befiore and I felt awful- no thanks"
- "I am going to the doctor for headaches and they are taking tests that will show if I have any substances in my body"
Talk to your kids and see if they feel these ways will work. Feel free to tweak them for situations they feel may be more realistic.
Having an arsenal of phrases will come to the rescue when your kids are face-to-face with their peers- or text-to-text... or email-to-email.
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