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Helping Your Kids Deal with Peer Pressure

School-aged kids of all ages experience peer pressure.  Wise parents start addressing this issue before it begins, and they reinforce and adapt their techniques as the kids’ ages and circumstances change.  Here are some tips to help your kids deal with peer pressure.

Proactive Steps (before peer pressure begins)

Kids’ ability to handle peer pressure well depends in part on their understanding of what is right, what is a little wrong, and what is a lot wrong.  Therefore, parents need to be speaking with their kids about what “right” means to them, what “wrong” means to them, and how to differentiate between a little wrong (i.e., making a mess in the kitchen) and a lot wrong (i.e., stealing the neighbor’s car).  Parents need to discuss character, consequences, and the value and fragility of trust.  Parents should also consider the example that they are setting for their kids.  Are the parents making choices that they would be happy for their kids to emulate?

Kids’ ability to handle peer pressure well depends in part on the kids’ self-knowledge and strength of character.  Therefore, parents need to help their kids learn who they are and how to be true to their sense of self.  Kids need to have some version of the following in their heads when peer pressure is applied to get them to do something that is wrong as defined by their parents.

“No, thanks.  I want to be a dentist, and I am shooting for a track scholarship to college.  If I do drugs, I will lose out on everything I want.  I won’t get the scholarship . . . and I can’t go to college without the scholarship . . . and I can’t become a dentist without going to college.”

Kids’ need to have a fail-safe when their broad shoulders just aren’t broad enough.  Therefore, parents need to tell their kids that, in such an event, the kids should find a way to let the parents shoulder the responsibility.  Kids using this fail-safe may say, “No, thanks!  I can’t go to your kegger tonight.  I got in some hot water last night, and now I have to do all kinds of chores for Mom and Dad this evening as my punishment.”  (Note:  it is not a good idea to encourage your kids to lie.  Your kids can, however, be encouraged to present information carefully.  In the example above, perhaps, on the night before, the mother expressed frustration for the ongoing mess that is the kids’ bedrooms.  While the bedrooms don’t need to be cleaned the very next night, they do need to be cleaned soon due to parental dissatisfaction with their current state of cleanliness or lack thereof.  So, the quote above references the “hot water”  from the night before and the chores, such as vacuuming, dusting, and putting items in their proper place that will take place during the kegger.)

Kids’ need to know that their parents will be available to listen to them, counsel them, and nurture them (rather than condemn them) when peer pressure is applied.    Therefore, parents need to state and re-state, over and over again, that they are available for these purposes.

Reactive Steps (after peer pressure begins)

When parents become aware that their kids are experiencing peer pressure, they should openly but privately discuss this with their kids.  Many questions may be appropriate.  “You seem really quiet.  Is something troubling you?”  “Are you being pressured to skip school on Friday?”  “What are your thoughts about what is going on?”  “Do you want to do that?”  “What are the consequences if you do that?”  “What are the consequences if you don’t do that?”  “Is there any way of avoiding the trouble that may come if you ignore the peer pressure?”  “Is there anything I can do to help?”

When parents become aware of frequent peer pressure from one or more common sources, parents should openly and privately discuss this with their kids.  Again, many questions may be appropriate.  “Have you noticed that Chris has been involved in every peer pressure incident you’ve experienced?”  “Why do you think Chris is so big into peer pressure?”  “Now that we think we understand what is driving Chris’ behaviors, is there something you can do to approach Chris differently so that things can move forward differently?”  “Would it be ok if I spoke with Chris’ parents?”

Reactive Steps (after peer pressure has advanced to bullying)

When parents become aware that peer pressure has advanced to bullying, parents need to speak with their kids about what they (the parents) will be doing to correct the situation.  Parents should visit with the kids’ teachers, school administrators, and counselors.  The bullies should be confronted and closely monitored by school officials.  Perhaps the classroom seating arrangement can be altered to move the bully away from the kids s/he has been bullying.  The bully or the bullied may be transferred to a different classroom.  If all else fails, the kids who are being bullied may need to be transferred to a different class, a different school.

If the bullying is particularly severe and may violate laws of the locale, law enforcement should be notified.  All reasonable attempts should be made to conceal the names of the bullied kids.  For example, can reports be made anonymously or at least confidentially?

When parents become aware that their kids are experiencing distress from the bullying, parents are wise to provide them loving support and additionally make an appointment for them to visit with a counselor to help them deal with their distress.

By following the tips above, you can help kids deal with peer pressure.  For more useful information, continue to visit Care4hire.com.

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