As parents, we raise our children and provide them with guidance and support. However, as they get older, they depend less on us for reassurance and look to their friends for approval. From clothing choices, music, interests, and even speech patterns, teens are influenced by their peers. Also known as peer pressure, it is not uncommon for teens to participate in activities to feel like they belong. However, when teens participate in drug or alcohol abuse, sexual activity, bullying, or stealing, this is considered negative peer pressure. And when the pressure to belong results in teens participating in harmful or detrimental behavior, it is time to intervene and seek mental health treatment.
At Destination for Teens, we understand how detrimental peer pressure can be and the negative role that it can have in any teen’s mental health. Reach out today to learn more about how our team of mental health professionals can help your teenager by calling 877.466.0620.
Here are several tips for helping your teen navigate negative peer pressure.
Teach Your Children to Listen to Their Gut
One of the most remarkable ways to help your teen avoid negative peer pressure is to teach them to be independent thinkers. Early on, children should know that they do not need to please everyone–not adults or children. When children learn to please themselves first and then others, they are less inclined to participate in negative behavior. In addition, when children are independent thinkers, they can also listen to their gut and follow their intuition versus the whims of other teens.
Independent thinkers do not worry about feeling conflicted if others will like them–they are self-assured.
Seek Out Positive Relationships
Very often, teens are influenced by the behavior and choices of other young adults. Peers who encourage your teen to participate in harmful behavior might seem fun and happy, but they are not. Instead, these peers are dangerous. As a parent, you can encourage your teen to seek positive relationships with others who respect them and not place unfair pressure on them. Remind your teen that a good friend will never make you do something that presents discomfort. Good friends are those that make you feel valued and are not judgmental.
The best way to help your teen identify positive relationships? By introducing them to favorable environments. Encourage your teen to participate in extracurricular activities such as sports teams or civic organizations supervised by adults who care about the well-being of young adults.
Avoid Peer Pressure by Learning Effective Exit Strategies
Peer pressure can be challenging–after all, teens interact with their peers in person and on social media. However, we can teach teens how to handle uncomfortable situations. By sharing exit strategies with our teens, they will be equipped to avoid pressure-based problems.
You can brainstorm scenarios with your teen so they can anticipate how to respond to negative peer pressure readily. By sharing with your teen how to react to their peers, you teach them the power of protecting themselves and setting clear boundaries. Remember: your teen needs to be an independent, assertive thinker. They can only become this person if they are not passive.
Know Your Teen’s Friends and Their Families
Do you know your teen’s friends? What about their families? Invite your teen’s friends and family over for events. Strike up conversations with other parents at school events. While friends can influence our teens, their families can model behaviors that can be positive or negative. And as parents, it is our responsibility to know our children’s friends and their influences.
By getting to know your teen’s friends and their families, you will be able to identify influential people in your child’s life. And, you have an opportunity to help them identify relationships that are harmful and boost positive friendships.
Talk to Your Teen About Peer Pressure
We’ve all been teenagers, and we know the consequences of participating in certain activities. Share your experiences with your teen. This is a win-win for you as a parent because sharing humanizes you. First, your teen will know that you are not perfect and have had to learn lessons in your life. Second, sharing your story will help them realize the power of being an independent thinker who is always ready for an exit strategy.
Being a teenager is not easy. And being a parent of a teenager is probably even more complex: there’s a fine line between sharing information and appearing judgemental. So use any opportunity you can to share your life with your teen to learn from you.
Help Your Teen Deal With Peer Pressure
Avoiding peer pressure is not always easy for teens. It is essential to educate your teen on the realities of peer pressure. And even more significant: helping them learn strategies to identify and walk away from negative peer pressure. If you are struggling with developing strategies to help your teen be strong in the face of peer pressure, we are here to help. The following programs can help teens deal with peer pressure: