Being a teenager is tough these days – these kids are faced with taunting, bullying, the undying want and even need to fit in and be “popular,” and of course their own self-confidence issues as they mature and work their way into their own social circles.
So how can you, as a parent, help your teenagers stay on the “right” path – one without the drugs and alcohol and partying that is often associated with the “cool kids” in the class? Here are just a few tips to help your teen find out who they are for themselves and avoid the dangers of succumbing to risky peer pressure.
Perhaps the most important step in helping your teenager mature into a responsible adult is to stay involved in their lives. This means asking questions and being genuinely interested in the things that seem to interest your teen.
After each school day, ask your teen about their classes and their current circle of friends. If someone has done or said something mean, help your teen understand what the person meant by it and help them realize that maybe it wasn’t meant the way that it was said. Ask about weekend plans, and always ask who will be home at a friend’s house when your teen says that they are leaving your home to go there.
Staying involved by asking questions and knowing what your teen is doing as often as possible can help you understand what their life is like, what interests they have and what kind of friends they are becoming close to. This, in turn, can lead to a further understanding of potential dangers that may arise in your teen’s life when it comes to peer pressure.
Develop a Strong Sense of Family
Family is the closest group a teenager can have, so it’s important to nurture that relationship as a group to encourage your child to make more positive decisions later on in life.
Find time to plan plenty of family activities on weekends and vacations, and develop a strong bond with your teenager in doing so. Think about it – a teen who doesn’t have a strong family relationship at home will be far more likely to go out on their own and make bad decisions because they often feel that no one will care if they mess up.
Make sure your teenagers know that you are proud of them and the decisions that they make, and let them know that their presence contributes to your family. These are the teenagers that will be more likely to want to spend time at home, like, say, after curfew. They won’t dread coming home to parents that they don’t feel care about them.
Help Instill Confidence
It’s tough for a teenager to feel confident in themselves – there are so many external influences on them now that often inadvertently tell them that they aren’t “good enough,” including their peers.
If you can instill that much-needed confidence in your teenager on the home front, you’re one step ahead of the game when it comes to your teen being able to face peer pressure. The more confident your child is in themselves, the more likely they will feel comfortable saying “no” when an opportunity arises with peer pressure.
Explain it’s OK to Say No!
We’ve all been there – we’ve struggled as teens ourselves to say “no,” and sometimes we’ve even made the mistakes of saying “yes.” Teens will make mistakes, and they will learn from them, just as you likely have.
But share your experiences as a teenager with your own teen. Enlighten them on the mistakes that you once made (with some discretion, of course), and explain to them that you simply do not want to see them making the same mistakes. If you ever wished you had said “no” to something, explain how that felt when you realized your mistake.
It’s important to teach your teenagers that in most circumstances, it’s OK to say “no.” Being the most popular kid in high school does not mean that they will be the most successful adult beyond the high school years, as many teenagers believe. In fact, the teenagers that know how to overcome peer pressure and just say “no” are often the ones who develop stronger senses of identities and possess more leadership skills that the pressurers.
With a little bit of guidance and help from you, the parents, it is possible to help your teenager overcome the difficult pressures of being that age. Just be patient, be gentle and always let them know that you are there to help them, not ruin their lives.
- License: Creative Commons image source
Jessica Tanning is a freelance writer who struggled with peer pressure herself and is now helping a family member struggle through the same. She once sought out help from The Rehab Advisor for some advice on avoiding dangerous situations, and she encourages parents to do the same.