How to help your Teen Battle Peer Pressure

As the majority of parents who have raised teenagers can attest, most teens will be affected by peer pressure, both positive and negative, at some point during adolescence. Driven by a natural desire to fit in, to be accepted, and to find their place in the world, it’s common for teenagers to be influenced by their peers when it comes to what they think, how they act, and the choices they make. While positive peer pressure often yields positive results, such as encouraging teens to study harder and strive for better grades, to become involved in extracurricular activities, and to take proper care of themselves, the negative side of peer pressure has the opposite effect and can result in a host of serious problems, including drug and alcohol use, sexual promiscuity, and criminal activity. Fortunately, there are steps that you, as a parent, can take in order to help your teen battle the reality of negative peer pressure and minimize its effects.

-Discuss peer pressure with your teen.

According to the Center for Effective Parenting, simply discussing peer pressure with your teen will go a long way toward helping him to understand the peer pressure process and the feelings associated with it, which, in turn, will make it easier for him to avoid being negatively influenced by his peers. In addition, developing a close relationship with your teen and keeping the lines of communication open increases the chances that your teen will feel comfortable and secure in coming to you for advice when peer pressure becomes problematic.

-Be involved in your teen’s life.

Although it’s important to allow your teen to develop a healthy sense of independence and freedom, it’s equally important to stay actively involved in his life. Parents Reaching Out suggests that you get to know your teen’s friends and their parents, be aware of where your teen is, who he is with, and what he is doing at all times, and encourage him to seek out a variety of positive friendships and role models. Teens who experience a higher level of parental involvement are less likely to succumb to negative peer pressure than those whose parents show little interest in their lives or allow them too much freedom and independence.

-Plan frequent family time and activities.

A common misconception among parents is that teenagers prefer spending time with friends as opposed to family. While this may be true in some cases, Parents Reaching Out notes that family is vitally important to teens, and spending quality time with your teen is essential in the battle against peer pressure. When you make an effort to set aside time for enjoyable activities that involve the entire family, you’ll not only develop a closer relationship with your teenager, but because his needs are successfully being met at home, you’ll also ensure that negative peer influences, such as gangs, become a far less attractive option to him.

-Help your teen to develop healthy self-esteem and the ability to be assertive.

Teens who suffer from low self-esteem and an inability to be assertive often find it hard to resist negative peer pressure. Therefore, it’s important to help your teen develop a healthy level of self-esteem and to teach him how to be assertive by standing up for what he believes in when confronted with peer pressure. The Center for Effective Parenting recommends teaching your teen assertiveness through role-playing activities and problem-solving techniques, both of which will effectively prepare him for a variety of real-life peer pressure situations.

-Provide discipline and help when necessary.

Despite your best efforts to help your teen resist peer pressure, there may come a time when he gives in to the pressure and acts inappropriately. As Parents Reaching Out mentions, it’s your responsibility as a parent to provide appropriate discipline to send a clear message that a particular behavior will not be tolerated. Keep in mind that the most effective and appropriate form of discipline for teenagers who succumb to negative peer pressure often involves the loss of privileges, no longer allowing your teen to associate with the person he got into trouble with, or requiring that he make some type of restitution. If your teen continues to give in to peer pressure on a regular basis or is getting into trouble as a result of who he chooses as his friends, then it’s advisable to seek help from a mental health professional with expertise in dealing with teen issues.

Sources:

Center for Effective Parenting

Parents Reaching Out